The Zulu nation interim ruler, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, who died in hospital on Thursday, was born in eSwatini in 1956.
The daughter of the late eSwatini King Sobhuza 11, Queen Dlamini Zulu of the kwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace in Nongoma, was the senior wife of the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.
Queen Dlamini Zulu, who got married to King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu in 1977, had eight children.
Following the passing of King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu on March 11, the Zulu royal family on March 24 announced Queen Dlamini Zulu as the Zulu nation’s interim ruler as per the wishes of her husband, who left behind a will outlining how his succession should be handled.
According to a member of the Zulu royal family, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, Queen Dlamini Zulu has been unwell since 2020.
While Dlamini Zulu is not the eldest of King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s six wives, she is considered to be the senior wife on the basis that she was married to the King during his reign and also has royal blood.
According to Zulu culture and traditions, as Zulu King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s great wife, Dlamini Zulu was married to the King so she could produce the heir to the throne.
As the King’s great wife, one of Dlamini Zulu’s roles within the Zulu royal family was to unite the King’s wives and prevent family rifts.
Queen Dlamini Zulu’s appointment as the Regent of the Zulu nation meant that she held the throne left behind by king Zwelithini kaBhekuZulu, and had the final say on the matter of the King’s successor.
The Queen’s appointment as the Regent of the Zulu nation was also meant to avert succession battles.
However, with her sudden passing, it is no longer clear how the issue of King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s succession will be dealt with.
A member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, some viewed Queen Dlamini Zulu’s marriage to king Zwelithini kaBhekuZulu, a polygamist, as something which created a conflict given that the church was opposed to polygamy.
Sister to the current eSwatini Monarch, King Mswati 111, Queen Dlamini Zulu’s marriage to King Goodwill kaBhekuzulu was also meant to strengthen relations between the Zulu and the eSwatini royal families.
While Queen Dlamini Zulu’s husband, King Goodwill kaBhekuZulu, died of complications from diabetes and Covid-19, the cause of her death remains unclear.
Queen Dlamini Zulu, who was initially admitted to a Durban hospital, was later transferred to a Johannesburg hospital, where she died on Thursday afternoon.