When thinking of Royal Visits to Windsor, the Royal Visits of 1939, 1951 & 1984 spring to mind. While the English Royal family has made several visits to our fair city over the years, one that’s little known, and largely forgotten, is the Royal Visit of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassi I, Emperor of Ethiopia, who spent the night in Windsor, during a North American visit in 1954.
In June, 1954, the Emperor of Ethiopia was on a two month long tour a North America. During this tour, he came to Canada, visiting Ottawa, then Montreal, on to Quebec City, before flying to Windsor, where he spent the night before crossing the Bridge to Detroit, and back to the United States, where from Detroit, he went to Chicago, then to Minneapolis.
The royal party had 32 members, and they filled the entire eighth floor of the Prince Edward hotel during their stay. The stop over in Windsor, was really an official stop per the Government of Canada, who planned for the stop, and were hoping that the Windsor stop would be a low key affair. However Mayor Reaume, was never one to let a chance to be in the spotlight pass him by.
En route to the Prince Edward the mayor suggested that the Emperor might like to stop and pay his respects at the Cenotaph, which was then at the intersection of Ouellette & Gilles. Selassie agreed that he would very much like to see it, and the motorcade made an unscheduled stop, where Emperor Selassie got out of the car and spent several moments in silent reflection at the base of the memorial.
They arrived downtown where a large crowd was waiting to see the Emperor. In 1954, which was Windsor’s centennial year, a large building shaped like a birthday cake was erected on Ouellette avenue, Mayor Reaume, again, operating on his own schedule asked the Emperor if he wanted to go see it, again Selassie agreed, and the two men walked down the middle of Ouellette avenue to the Birthday cake and paid it a visit, before returning to the hotel.
The following morning the party ate in their suites, and headed to the Ambassador Bridge for a military display for the Emperor, where he was handed over to the Detroit party. From there he went to a reception at Detroit City Hall, where Mayor Alfred Cobo presented him with the keys to the city, and he had a brief press conference, before heading to Ann Arbor, when he was given an honorary degree. He then presented an antique Amharic Bible to the University of Michigan for its rare books collection.
While the other royal visits are more well known, this visit is one that’s largely forgotten. I wonder what happened to the official City of Windsor visitor’s guest book he signed back in 1954?
I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and happy new year.