Swaziland defends king's visit to British royal wedding

26th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Swazi foreign minister Lutfo Dlamini on Tuesday defended King Mswati III's decision to attend the royal wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton, despite protests in the kingdom.

"On the day the king was crowned, England's royalty was invited to the country and were present. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with the king's invitation because the relationship between the two countries is a healthy one," Dlamini said in the Swazi Times.

The king's jet-set lifestyle, with 13 wives and a fortune estimated at $100 million, has become increasingly controversial in Swaziland where the government wants to slash salaries for civil servants to cope with a crippling budget crisis.

In a country where nearly 70 percent of people live on less than a dollar a day, he has built million-dollar palaces for each of his wives, giving them BMWs and personal staff and sending them on overseas shopping sprees by private jet.

Discontent erupted into street protests earlier this month, with police detaining, beating and tear-gassing demonstrators.

Swazi activists are calling for a "Red Friday" protest this week, the same day as the wedding, urging people to wear red to show their support for the pro-democracy movement in Africa's last absolute monarchy.

© 2011 AFP

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