National Geographic : 1978 Jan
Broadway's The Sound of Music. On Zulu Coronation Day in 1971, newly crowned King Zwelithini first met his Swazi guest and future bride. A ruler with limited powers, the 28-year-old monarch presides over some 280 clans, whose homeland, Kwa Zulu, lies inside the Republic of South Africa. The Swazi royal family heads a landlocked nation to the north, which was granted independence by the British in 1968. The couple became formally engaged in 1973, but the state wedding was de layed almost four years. Meanwhile, they built a palace and had two chil dren. Because of her pedigree, Princess Mantfombi, 21, now becomes the "main wife" and her children the legitimate heirs of King Zwelithini, who has two other wives. In Swazi and Zulu societ ies, a king is encouraged to take brides from as many clans as possible as a means of knitting his people together.