Ethiopian Royals in Washington DC

The petite, curly-haired princess of Ethi­o­pia is a mortgage loan officer who commutes 40 minutes a day, does her own dishes and shops for sales on twin sets at Tysons Corner Center.

“I don’t have bodyguards clearing traffic or tailors stitching my clothes. This is America,” says Saba Kebede of McLean, who laughed and looked at her husband, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, the grandson of Ethio­pian Emperor Haile Selassie.

A new kind of fairy tale

In the shaded courtyard of an Ethiopian­ orthodox church in Alexandria, Prince Selassie and his wife, Princess Kebede, ­­are wading through a crowd of women wearing gauzy cotton wraps over their hair and bowing in prayer. ­A priest holding a silver cross ushers the royal couple into the church’s basement. With incense burning, they jostle to take their seats around a table for a traditional Ethio­pian meal.

“Wait! Please, don’t sit there,” the priest calls out. “Come to the front of the table. You can’t just sit anywhere. You’re very famous.”

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Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, the grandson of Ethio­pian Emperor Haile Selassie
Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, the grandson of Ethio­pian Emperor Haile Selassie. (photo: Washingtonpost)

Outside the church, the Selassies seem like any other Washington area family. The prince ­works at the International Strategic Studies Association, a think tank in Alexandria focusing on issues such as water security in Africa. The princess spends her days approving mortgage loans for the Congressional Federal Credit Union.

But royals are becoming increasingly important to the Ethio­pian community, which sees its history in the face of Prince Selassie. There is a growing movement among the younger generation to honor the controversial legacy­­ of the prince’s grandfather. Read More on WashingtoPost.com

 

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