It would take seven-out-of-ten Swazis at least three years to earn the price of the shoes trimmed with jewels worn by one of King Mswati III’s 13 wives at a lunch in the UK.
Inkhosikati LaMbikiza, the King’s first wife, wore shoes that cost £995 (US$1,559) to a lunch hosted by the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II to mark her Diamond Jubilee, earlier this month (May 2012).
Her shoes were described by reporters as a ‘rather eye-catching pair of Pearly Queen-style shoes with feathery pom-poms on the toes and heels.’ They were trimmed with jewels, sequins and feathers.
She also wore a black and white spotted dress with feathery trimmings to match her shoes and a grey clutch bag.
The King is regularly criticised in media across the globe for his extravagant lifestyle. Media in Swaziland, where King Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, dare not criticise him. Last week the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, featured a report about LaMbikiza’s shoes, gushing that she had received ‘rave reviews’ for her dress sense while in the UK.
In Swaziland, seven-in-ten of King Mswati’s subjects are so poor they cannot afford shoes of any kind. They earn less than US$2 a day and it would take them at least 779 working days, or three years, to earn the price of LaMbikiza’s shoes.
While more than half of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population rely on some form of food aid to keep them from hunger, King Mswati has 13 palaces in Swaziland, one for each of his wives; fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars and at least one Rolls Royce. Last month, for his 44th birthday he received a private jet worth US$17 million as a gift. He refused to reveal who bought it for him, leading to speculation that it was paid for out of public funds.
The cost of the King’s five-day trip to the UK for the Diamond Jubilee has been estimated to be at least US$794,500.
Picture of LaMbikiza’s shoes: The Daily Beast
KING’S TRIP TO LONDON ‘COST US$794,500’