MEET the African princess who’s been living incognito as a student in Sydney, keeping such a low profile that most classmates don’t even know they’re brushing shoulders with royalty.
Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini (centre), dancing at Umhlanga, 2006. She wears a red feather crown, distinguishing her as a royal female.
Sikhanyiso Dlamini was educated in Britain at a mixed private school, St Edmund’s College, Ware, in Hertfordshire, where she was in Challoner House. She continued to study drama at Biola University in California. In 2012, Princess Sikhanyiso graduated from Sydney University with a master’s degree in digital communication. While in Australia, she resided in Glebe with her palace-appointed aide, Yemma Sholo. She is the first child of Inkhosikati LaMbikiza and has more than two hundred blood-related uncles and aunts through her grandfather, King Sobhuza II, who had seventy wives and two hundred and one children. She is also one of his one thousand grandchildren in the Royal Swazi House of Dlamini.
She is the first-born of thirty children born to King Mswati III, her mother being Mswati III’s young love, Inkhosikati LaMbikiza (Sibonelo Mngomezulu). She has two hundred aunts and uncles, not including their spouses.
In 2001, Mswati III instituted the umchwasho—a traditional chastity rite—in Swaziland as a means of combatting the AIDS epidemic. The princess became a focus of controversy because while she was staying abroad, she was not bound by the strictures of the umchwasho. While studying abroad, Princess Sikhanyiso developed a reputation for ignoring or rebelling against her native country’s traditions. Sikhanyiso wears Western-style jeans and miniskirts, something women in Swaziland are banned from doing.Controversies
On 14 December 2003, a report appeared in the Times of Swaziland claiming that Princess Sikhanyiso had gone on a trip to the US and Britain, and that the Swazi government had spent close to E1 Million (US$100,000) on her trip. The Prime Minister’s office subsequently issued a press statement denying these claims.
At the end of the ban in 2005, Princess Sikhanyiso, then seventeen years old, celebrated with a party involving loud music and alcohol at the Queen mother’s residence. As punishment for the princess’s disrespect of the royal residence, during which Mswati announced his engagement to a new wife-to-be, an official overseeing traditional affairs beat Princess Sikhanyiso with a stick.
The following year, the Princess criticized the institution of polygamy in Eswatini, saying, “Polygamy brings all advantages in a relationship to men, and this to me is unfair and evil.” The Princess was subsequently ‘gagged’ by the Royal Palace and the press was not allowed to contact her. She is an aspiring actress and rapper and is commonly known as “Pashu” in Eswatini.
She was featured in a 2007 documentary titled Without the King about the monarchy in Eswatini, the disparity between the royals’ wealth and the widespread poverty of their subjects, and Eswatini’s HIV/AIDS crisis.
In late September 2013 she had a three-hour-long Twitter conversation with a proscribed Swazi organisation, the People’s United Democratic Movement. Afterwards her Twitter account was deleted without explanation.Achievements
The King supported the Princess with her launch of the Imbali Foundation in April 2014. The foundation focuses on the health, education, and spirituality of Imbali YemaSwati (the regiment of Swazi maidens headed by the Inkhosatana or Chief Maiden). The Princess runs the beauty pageant Miss Swaziland Tourism. The Swaziland Deaf Association requested her patronage for Miss Deaf Africa and received the government’s support.
During the Princess’s brief stay in Malaysia for an internship program at Limkokwing University, she recorded a single titled “Hail Your Majesty” in honour of her father, The King. The debut of the tribute song received a standing ovation at Limkokwing during the conferment of an honorary doctorate to King Mswati III on 4 July 2013.
The Princess is a member of the board of directors of MTN Swaziland, a multinational mobile telecommunications company. She has appointed a businessman from Malaysia, the director of MyStartBiz Sdn Bhd, Muhammad Qadeer, as her Special Envoy for Investment Promotion in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
And just like Denmark’s Prince Frederik before her, she hasn’t ruled out taking an Australian home.
Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini, the eldest daughter of Swaziland’s King Mswati III, has been in Australia since February, studying for a masters of digital communication at Sydney University.
Her modest flat near the CBD is a far cry from life in her landlocked nation — it is just 1 1/2 times the size of metropolitan Sydney — where she has servants and can’t walk the streets without being mobbed.
She is even doing her own cooking — although she admits it’s been a tough learning curve.
“Living here is very different. I have to do my own bed and my own cooking — I had to ask my aunty how to fry an egg,” she laughs.
Having already studied in the US, the princess said she always wanted to experience life in Australia.
“I heard (Aussies) were the friendliest white people ever — and besides that fact they don’t look too shabby,” she said.
So does that mean she might consider taking an Aussie home?
“It would be really hard and I’m not sure if my family would allow it, but I like it here and I would love to live here,” she said.
While the princess lives a relatively glamorous life abroad, conditions for Swaziland women remain poor, given that before 2006 they had the legal status of minors and were unable to own property or open a bank account.