The world's longest reigning monarch, King Sobhuza, the second, of Swaziland celebrated his 81st birthday and 60 years on the throne on Tuesday (22 July) with a special ceremony.
LV & CU Members of Swaziland Royal Family entering tent at Entfonjeni, Mbabane for birthday celebrations (2 shots)
LV King Sobhuza the second's motorcade arriving
CU Guard of honour standing at attention
SV King Sobhuza of Swaziland standing on rostrum taking salute from guard of honour. Guard of honour presents arms. King saluting (3 shots)
CU & LV Guard of honour led by standard bearers slow-march past royal rostrum (3 shots)
SV & CU King and officials seated under tent with young children seated at his feet
SV Member of royal family seated in tent
SV & CU King Sobhuza speaking in Zulu language (2 shots)
SV & CU Warriors parade past in traditional costume (3 shots)
CU PULL BACK TO LV King saluting from rostrum during anthem
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Background: The world's longest reigning monarch, King Sobhuza, the second, of Swaziland celebrated his 81st birthday and 60 years on the throne on Tuesday (22 July) with a special ceremony. King Sobhuza was chosen to rule when he was five months old but his mother looked after his affairs until he was 21.
SYNOPSIS: The celebrations took place at the Engfonjeni Palace in the town of Mbabane. A special enclosure and tent was erected for the Royal Family.
Thousands of people were at the palace to greet the arrival of the King's motorcade. His two-hour appearance dispelled repeated reports that the elderly monarch was ailing. The King enjoys considerable popularity in Swaziland and his country, by Southern African standards, remains relatively free of serious dissent. In 1973, he suspended Westminster-style multi-party politics and ruled by personal decree for the next five years. In 1978, he instituted a tribally-based General Assembly, though his influence remained absolute.
After inspecting a guard of honour, King Sobhuza spoke about the new style of government which he set up two years ago. He told guests that the constitution was in agreement with the spirit of the Swazi people. The King said it was not the kind of system which is forced on people. He said white and black Swazi supported the constitution because they agreed with it.
The King is believed to have about 100 wives and a local legend that the monarch has special powers of fertility seems well founded. He has fathered around 500 children.
King Sobhuza also paid tribute to Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana whose funeral was held on Friday (25 July). He was described as an outstanding statesman who promoted unity in Africa.
Tribal warriors paraded past the saluting rostrum in traditional costume. for electoral purposes Swaziland is divided into 40 chieftaincies which in turn choose an 80-member Electoral College. The Electoral College then elects 40 members to the National Assembly and ten to the Senate. All but six members of the Assembly are black.
It is not yet clear who will succeed King Sobhuza to the throne. Succession does not automatically fall to the eldest son. Instead the prince must be chosen merit.