The Zulu royal family in South Africa has appointed the third wife of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini as regent until a new monarch takes the throne.
Queen Mantfombi MaDlamini Zulu held the status of “Great Wife” since her marriage to the king in 1977.
Her appointment has fuelled speculation that one of her sons will become king of the 11 million-strong Zulu nation.
Zwelithini, 72, had diabetes and died in hospital of Covid-related complications on 12 March.
He was the longest-reigning Zulu monarch, having served on the throne for almost 50 years.
He had six wives and at least 26 children.
Queen MaDlamini Zulu’s appointment was announced following a meeting between Zwelithini’s lawyers and some 200 members of the royal family to discuss his will.
The late king’s traditional prime minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said her appointment was in line with Zwelithini’s wishes.
The royal family would observe a three-month mourning period and further decisions about the king’s successor would be taken thereafter, chief Buthelezi said.
“The loss of His Majesty, the king, has been a tremendous blow and the family must be allowed to grieve,” he added.
Zwelithini was buried – or planted, as Zulus say – on Thursday at a private ceremony attended by a select few men from the royal family.
What more do we know about the regent?
Queen MaDlamini Zulu held the highest status among the king’s wives, as she came from royalty.
She is the sister of Eswatini’s King Mswati III – Africa’s only absolute monarch.
Queen MaDlamini Zulu had eight children – including five sons – with the late king, according to South African media.
Their eldest son, 47-year-old Prince Misuzulu, is the favourite to take the throne, reports say.