Haile Selassie was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. He spent the war years in exile in Bath, England, where he founded the International Club. One of his official titles as Emperor was King of Kings of Ethiopia (at the time known as Abyssinia) and another Ras Tafari and he was a descendant of the union of Solomon and Sheba. His coronation was a magnificent affair which attracted a great deal of publicity all over the world and in particular two articles in "Time" magazine attracted attention among certain Jamaicans, who were inspired by his lineage and his official titles, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings and Elect of God. The idea spread that he was the confirmation of prophecy in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah and Root of David. Rastafari faith in the incarnate divinity of Haile Selassie. Ethiopia became, in their imaginations, the promised land to which they were destined to return. In 1961, the Jamaican government sent a delegation composed of both Rastafarian and non-Rastafarian leaders to Ethiopia to discuss the matter of repatriation, among other issues, with the Emperor. He gave encouragement to this dream of "returning" to Jamaica.
When Haile Selassie visited Jamaica on 21 April 1966, he was mobbed by about one hundred thousand Rastafari from all over Jamaica descended on Palisadoes Airport in Kingston. That day, widely held by scholars to be a major turning point for the movement, is still commemorated by Rastafarians as Grounation Day, the anniversary of which is celebrated as the second holiest holiday after November 2, the Emperor's Coronation Day. Haile Selassie himself was a member of the Ethiopian Coptic Church and is reported as having been dismayed and appalled at the idea of being seen as a god, going as far as to send Coptic priests to Jamaica to turn people away from Rastafarianism.