Swaziland’s King Mswati III has chosen an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant as his 15th wife.
Mswati, a 45-year-old who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, introduced Sindiswa Dlamini at a Reed Dance celebration over the weekend, Mtetwa told AFP. She wore red feathers on her head — a sign of royalty.
The young woman graduated from Mbabane’s St. Francis High School last year and is a finalist in the Miss Cultural Heritage beauty pageant. The winner will be announced on September 28.
The king has come under fire for his household’s lavish lifestyle while the tiny mountain kingdom’s 1.2 million people struggle to make a living. Mswati reportedly has a personal fortune of around $200 million (152 euros) and the UN estimates that 70 percent of his 1.2 million subjects live below the poverty line.
Three wives left the household in recent years. The latest, Queen LaGija, fled the palace in 2012 claiming years of physical and emotional abuse.