May 30, 2005

King of Swaziland weds 11th bride

Thulani Mthethwa of the AP reports:

Swaziland's King Mswati III has taken another young bride, his 11th wife since he ascended to the throne in 1986...

She already is expecting their first child, which would add to the 24 children so far fathered by the 36-year-old monarch...

Mswati has set his sights on two more 17-year-olds, Nothando Dube and Xolile Titi Magagula, who quit school to prepare for the marriage and their royal duties. According to Swazi tradition, a woman has to become pregnant before the king can marry her. But there are rumors that Dube is already expecting.

Mswati, Africa's last absolute monarch, is frequently criticized for the lack of democracy, his lavish lifestyle and his luxury cars while many of his 1 million inhabitants live in poverty. Even South Africa, which is normally supportive of its African neighbors, has kept at a distance from the monarch.

He has also been accused of setting a bad example in a country with the world's highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS, with 42.6 percent of pregnant women attending antinatal clinics testing positive for the virus, according to a 2004 survey.

Mswati's father, King Sobhuza II, who led the country to independence in 1968, had more than 70 wives when he died in 1982.

The ruling dynasty of Swaziland is long-lasting in part because the kings wisely choose their multitudious brides from all the various tribes and clans, so practically everybody in Swaziland is related to the royal family.

That raises an important question about the survival prospects of a much more pivotal dynasty: Saudi Arabia. There are currently something like 6,000 royal princes, all direct descendents of the man who put his name on the country, King Ibn Saud. This lusty gentleman stretched the Koranic limit of four wives by constantly divorcing wives after they had given birth to sons and marrying new wives, but continuing to support his old wives. What I don't know about the royal family today is whether they continue to out-marry in order to build ties of blood with the commoners or whether they mostly marry their first, second, and third cousins in the royal family. The survival of the dynasty may hinge on that question.

One explanation I've heard for why the English aristocracy survived while the French aristocracy got guillotined is that the English were fairly open to marrying wealthy social climbers (e.g., Winston Churchill's father was the second son of a duke but his mom was the daughter of a self-made American millionaire and his wife, who was 1/4 Iroquois Indian), so there were a whole lot of upper middle class people who were related to the aristocrats. In contrast, the French nobility were increasingly inbreeding, so the emotional gap between the Second and Third Estates was much greater.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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