Bedros Sevadjian’s Gold Tray on Display at Buckingham Palace

In “Jeweler to an Emperor: Bedros A. Sevadjian (1918-1977),” (Armenian Weekly, Aug. 15, 2016), I wrote about the gold tray that Emperor Haile Selassie commissioned from my father, Bedros Sevadjian, as a gift to Queen Elizabeth during her state visit to Ethiopia in 1965.

That tray is now on display at Buckingham Palace. It forms part of an exhibition featuring gifts from around the world that Her Majesty has received during her long reign. The tray features in the accompanying catalog by curator Sally Goodsir.

I was just 10 years old when Queen Elizabeth II of England visited Ethiopia. In Addis Ababa, we were given the day off school when she arrived, so that we could line the streets and cheer, armed with little Ethiopian and British flags. Some Armenian girls, from The English School, went in Armenian daraz (national dress).

Armenian Girls in daraz greeting Queen Elizabeth II in Ethiopia (Photo: LIFE)

The visit was eagerly awaited. The Emperor had a very special relationship with the Queen of England—having lived in exile in the United Kingdom during the years of Italian fascist occupation of Ethiopia, and the British having helped in the liberation of his country. In 1954, Haile Selassie I made a state visit to the U.K., and in 1965 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were warmly welcomed on their state visit to Ethiopia.

My father was commissioned to make the gold tray to be presented to the Queen during her visit. He designed it and made it, using pure gold from the Adola Mines in the south of Ethiopia. It measures about 50 x 80 cm. [20 x 30 in.] and weighs about 14 kg. [30 lbs.].

The gold tray in 1965 (Photo: R.P. Sevadjian)

The picture taken when the tray was completed is a good record, except that it does not do justice to the color of the gold. At the exhibition, it just held my gaze, almost magnetically—Ethiopian gold, a beautiful dark buttery yellow, and at 22 carats glowing like the sun. Looking at it one can understand how King Midas felt!

This amazing object, presented by the Emperor of Ethiopia to the Queen of England, was made by Bedros A Sevadjian—an Armenian of Ethiopia. It is yet another example of how different communities can come together and share in a beautiful legacy.

A detailed image and description of the tray may be viewed at https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/50103

The Royal Gifts exhibition at Buckingham Palace runs until Oct. 1.

 

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R P Sevadjian is the author of "In the Shadow of the Sultan," a historical coming of age novel set during the Hamidian Massacres of 1896. Sevadjian is a third-generation diasporan Armenian, whose family left Asia Minor in the 1800s and was scattered across the world, no members remaining in their ancestral homelands. Born and raised in Africa, she now lives in the UK where she is currently researching the Armenians of Ethiopia and the work of B A Sevadjian. Her second novel, "The Darker Shadow," will be published in November. Her book is available on Amazon.

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