A Rolls-Royce Phantom stolen from the kingdom of Buganda in 1966 by strongman Idi Amin, on the orders of the state of Uganda, has finally been returned.
Charles Peter Mayiga, the current Katikkiro or prime minister of the kingdom of Buganda, told the BBC he was just three years old when the theft happened.
He told the BBC Newsday programme that the return of the vehicle was significant: Idi Amin was the commander of the army and he dispatched a unit that attacked the palace
This Rolls-Royce Phantom V used to be the official vehicle of King Muteesa II.
King Muteesa II is the last king of Buganda and the first president of independent Uganda.
The Phantom V was built between 1959 and 1968. It was the preferred mode of transport for Ooni, Queen Elizabeth and John Lennon.
Three of the Rolls-Royces have disappeared. One was sold, allegedly to a buyer in South Africa. But another of the Rolls-Royces,
A 1961 Phantom V languished for decades in State House in Kampala, before being transferred to the Uganda Museum in 2013. The ownership of the vehicle has been in dispute for years, The government has argued that the vehicle belongs to the state, and that it was in the possession of Mutesa II in his capacity as president.
According to Mayiga who was just three years old when the royal palace was ransacked, the Rolls-Royce Phantom V was especially significant In 1953, Mutesa II had been exiled by the British authorities after voicing support for an independent Buganda state.
When he returned in 1955, to a hero’s welcome, it was this vehicle that ferried him from Entebbe airport to the Mengo Palace. “Because the crowds were so big, the journey took so many hours and so many cars .
But then in reference to the Rolls-Royce, the king said: ‘My Rolls-Royce managed to weather that challenge,’” said Mayiga.
After this Phantom V from 1961 was seized in 1966, it was kept at the presidential palace for many years. It was later moved to Uganda Museum in 2013, where it was parked on display alongside Idi Amin’s Mercedes-Benz 600 and a Model-T Ford used by the last British governor of Uganda.
Earlier this month, after nearly six decades, the Phantom was finally returned to the royal family. “It’s a good feeling,” said Charles Peter Mayiga, the Katikkiro of the Buganda kingdom — a role equivalent to prime minister — in an interview with the Mail & Guardian. “Vintage cars are special cars — especially if they were driven by kings.