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Swazi king's royal invite criticised

2011-04-26 10:59
Johannesburg - Queen Elizabeth II's decision to invite King Mswati III of Swaziland to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding has been criticised.

"It is regrettable that the queen invited dictators of Bahrain, Swaziland and Saudi Arabia, who suffer severe human rights violations, to the royal wedding," British human rights activist Peter Tatchell told the online version of British newspaper The Independent.

Mswati's handling of peaceful protests in his country has also been criticised by Amnesty International.

A spokesperson for the St James's Palace said Queen Elizabeth is simply following tradition by inviting royal heads of state to the wedding.

According to Lucky Lukhele, spokesperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), Mswati is leaving for Britain on Wednesday.

Public money

"Members of the Swazi royal family told us that King Mswati and an entourage of 50 people are going to England where they will stay in the Dorchester Hotel in London," said Lukhele.

The Dorchester is a luxury hotel where the cheapest room costs R3 117 per person per night. The most expensive room, the Dorchester Suite, costs more than R26 000 per night.

Lukhele believes Mswati will only take one of his 13 wives to Britain, who will also accompany him to the wedding. The other 49 people will be members of his family and advisers. A private plane is expected to be hired to fly the king to England.

According to Lukhele the state will cover all costs.

"The SSN is opposed to the king attending the wedding, because you can't use public money to party. It's immoral," said Lukhele.

Bheki Dlamini, head of Mswati's office, confirmed the king's invitation to the wedding.

"The king has received an invitation, but he doesn't know whether he will be able to go yet," he said on Monday.

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