King Letsie III wed Karabo Motsoeneng in what was quickly dubbed the
Marriage of the Millennium two years ago, Lesotho indulged
itself in three days of happy celebration.
The wedding, in which the couple plighted their troth in front of a
40,000-strong crowd in the national stadium, was seen as a symbol of
national unity. And, as such, it embodied hopes that Lesotho was entering
a period of social and political stability after several years of upheaval.
Only two years earlier, riots had broken out when opposition groups
disagreed with the results of parliamentary elections, and peace was
only restored after the armed forces of South Africa and Botswana intervened.
In 1994, unrest had prompted King Letsie to suspend the constitution
in a political crisis that was to pave the way for his father, Moshoeshoe
II, to return to the throne a year later.
II had abdicated in favour of his son in 1990, in an earlier crisis
when the country was under military rule following a coup detat
in 1986. Letsie III became king for a second time on the death of his
father in a road accident in 1996.
For many years, King Letsie III had repeatedly referred to his need
to find a wife, most notably when he jokingly urged the assembled heads
of state at a summit meeting of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to help him in his quest.
His choice of a wife, now formally known as Queen Karabo Mohato Bereng
Seeiso, broke with tradition. It was the first time in the history of
modern Lesotho that a royal had married a commoner.
Last October, the royal couple announced the birth of their first daughter.
Whether she eventually ascends to the throne remains to be seen as the
royal succession is traditionally reserved for the male line.