If you search Google for ‘Haile Selassie and Queen Elizabeth’, the first results show something like this (31st of March, 2019) – note the first two pictures:
The first web link result is a tweet from Africa Facts Zone (March 1, 2018) – screenshot below:
Anyone who searches for this information on Google may end up believing that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip bowed before emperor Haile Selassie I and there are two photographs to prove it.
Fact check reveals the claim is false. Let’s start with the photographs.
Both photos were taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1955 for the LIFE Magazine. They can be found from photographer’s Ethiopia Essay collection currently hosted by Google Arts & Culture. Photos: one and two taken at Haile Selassie’s silver jubilee party celebrating the first 25 years of emperor’s reign.
Photographer’s visits to Ethiopia are well documented, also through the photographs. The 1955 trip was covered in the LIFE magazine (November 21st, 1955). Some people may have doubts about the timing, but it is easy to verify Eisenstaedt’s visit to Ethiopia in 1955 from various sources. Note that timing is important factor in this fact check.
You can also compare the two photographs against many other photos taken at the same celebration in 1955. It’s clear that all photographs were taken at the same event.
Eisenstaedt didn’t indicate the name of the visitors he photographed. Perhaps Eisenstaedt just didn’t know who they are: there were over 4000 participants. But it’s quite certain that Eisenstaedt would have recognized Queen Elizabeth II and made note of it. But he didn’t. Furthermore, none of the 4000 participants have not mentioned that Queen Elizabeth II was among the guests (at least I haven’t seen any such claim).
Note: the persons in these two photos are most likely members of diplomatic Corps. For example, this person could be the one in the 1st photo.
Queen Elizabet II made a state visit to Ethiopia in 1965. The list of state visits is public. Queen Elizabeth II simply cannot be in those two photos, because they were not visiting Ethiopia in 1955.
This claim is not new and not very viral, but it keeps coming back every now and then. Google search currently certainly doesn’t help to find the facts. Let’s hope the situation changes in the future.
Update: Haile Selassie visited UK in 1954 as part of a world tour. In London the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh received the Emperor at Victoria Station. This video shows how they greeted each other.