Swaziland’s royal wives’ shopping spree angers subjects

King Mswati III of Swaziland (above, in traditional dress) is Africa’s last absolute monarch, and, not surprisingly, has a huge amount of wealth at his disposal. Using it to send his wives on multimillion dollar shopping sprees has, shockingly, not gone over well, despite the inherent dangers in criticizing the king’s life: Reports from the ...

581851_090821_afr2.jpg

King Mswati III of Swaziland (above, in traditional dress) is Africa's last absolute monarch, and, not surprisingly, has a huge amount of wealth at his disposal. Using it to send his wives on multimillion dollar shopping sprees has, shockingly, not gone over well, despite the inherent dangers in criticizing the king's life:

Reports from the kingdom said that the king had dispatched at least five of his 13 wives and dozens of retainers to France, Italy, Dubai and Taiwan on a secret tour last week, using £4 million from the state budget. In Swaziland it is a criminal offence to criticise the king’s private life. 

King Mswati III of Swaziland (above, in traditional dress) is Africa’s last absolute monarch, and, not surprisingly, has a huge amount of wealth at his disposal. Using it to send his wives on multimillion dollar shopping sprees has, shockingly, not gone over well, despite the inherent dangers in criticizing the king’s life:

Reports from the kingdom said that the king had dispatched at least five of his 13 wives and dozens of retainers to France, Italy, Dubai and Taiwan on a secret tour last week, using £4 million from the state budget. In Swaziland it is a criminal offence to criticise the king’s private life. 

Both the king’s profligacy and his large number of wives have been points of controversy in the past. In April, Mswati bought 20 armored Mercedes cars for £150,000 each, and once attempted to buy a $45 million jet (more than twice the country’s health care budget). Meanwhile, the tradition of the king marrying multiple wives has been under fire in the past decade, twinned with a push for more women’s rights.

PABALLO THEKISO/AFP/Getty Images

James Downie is an editorial researcher at FP.
Tag: Africa

More from Foreign Policy

Bill Clinton and Joe Biden  at a meeting of the U.S. Congressional delegation to the NATO summit in Spain on July 7, 1998.

Liberal Illusions Caused the Ukraine Crisis

The greatest tragedy about Russia’s potential invasion is how easily it could have been avoided.

A report card is superimposed over U.S. President Joe Biden.

Is Biden’s Foreign Policy Grade A Material?

More than 30 experts grade the U.S. president’s first year of foreign policy.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan gives a press briefing.

Defining the Biden Doctrine

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan sat down with FP to talk about Russia, China, relations with Europe, and year one of the Biden presidency.

Ukrainian servicemen taking part in the armed conflict with Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk region of the country attend the handover ceremony of military heavy weapons and equipment in Kiev on November 15, 2018.

The West’s Weapons Won’t Make Any Difference to Ukraine

U.S. military equipment wouldn’t realistically help Ukrainians—or intimidate Putin.