Imperial Exile

With the plight of refuges constantly in the news, Imperial Exile is a timely reminder of the pressures that all exiles face. Emperor Haile Selassie had to escape to Britain after Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935 in search of a colony in Africa. The book contains a wealth of new information about the Emperor's four-year stay in the UK.​


​Tells the human side of Emperor Haile Selassie's struggles while living in Bath

Uncovers the tensions in the UK government about how to deal with Haile Selassie

Reveals how the Emperor had to pay tax after losing his Head of State status

​Highlights the public's fascination with the Imperial refugee

​Contains interviews with eyewitnesses, including Richard Pankhurst and Princess Seble Desta who was with her grandfather in exile

​Contains extracts from the extraordinary captain's log from a British warship called the Enterprise which picked up the Emperor from Djibouti at the start of his exile


​"The Emperor Haile Selassie is one of Africa’s major historical figures. He is widely revered in the continent and beyond. In his book, Keith Bowers has produced a detailed and intimate portrait of an extensive period in the Emperor’s life when he lived in Britain as an exile following the Italian invasion of ‘Abyssinia’. It was not a happy period for him and Bowers charts this tellingly. The British authorities had little to be proud of. In 1940, however, he was returned in triumph to his Empire which he ruled until his overthrow by military dictators in 1974. For the rest of his life he lived in prison at the mercy of a murderous regime. Bowers’s account adds substantially to the story of this important and fascinating world figure whose memory is held dear by many Ethiopians today."

- Jonthan Dimbleby

​"One of the most neglected aspects of the life story of Emperor Haile Selassie has long been the five 'missing years' spent in exile, during which Ethiopia became the world's first nation-state to fall victim to brutal Fascist occupation. It is well known that largely abandoned by the international community, the Emperor with his small coterie of advisers and sympathisers struggled at the League of Nations to maintain the integrity of his country, and tried to warn the world of the impending dangers of the rising tide of totalitarianism. What is less well known is the human side of the story - the pressures on the man born into a cultural milieu far removed from both the gentility of middle-class England and the cynicism of European politics of the 1930s. Following years of in-depth research, Keith Bowers now reveals facets of the Emperor never before published. For the first time, we see 'Haile Selassie the man' - the remarkable ability of the sovereign to adapt to changing fortunes, to embrace his reduced circumstances with dignity, and to face the humiliation of being powerless while his people suffered the heavy yoke of military occupation, while never losing his patience, his Orthodox faith, and the conviction that one day he will return home victorious. And we learn how, when the hour of opportunity finally arrives, the long forgotten and lonely figure bent over the dying embers of his living room hearth in war-time England has lost none of his formidable political acumen. Engaging both King George VI and Winston Churchill in a manner befitting an Emperor and with perfect timing, he returns home in triumph and continues to rule his country for more than three decades. This volume is a must-read for anyone interested in the modern history of Ethiopia, but is also a compelling account of the resilience of one man to rise above trials and tribulations that most of us will never have to face."

- Ian Campbell

​Author of The Plot to Kill Graziani, and The Massacre of Debre Libanos.