One of the wives of the polygamous king of Swaziland has been found dead at his private palace after reportedly taking her own life. The body of Senteni Masango, 37, was discovered on Friday afternoon amid reports she had been suffering from depression having not been allowed to attend her sister’s funeral.

Queen LaMasango, as she was known after her marriage, was one of 15 wives of King Mswati III of Swaziland – Africa’s last absolute monarch. She married the king back in 2000 at the age of 18 after being specially selected from a parade of bare-chested women in a reed dance ceremony, and the couple had two children together.

Mswati III attending a traditional Swazi ceremony near his palace in Lobamba back in 2016

Mswati III attending a traditional Swazi ceremony near his palace in Lobamba back in 2016

Queen LaMasango married the king in a low-key service because she had allegedly dropped out of school – making her an unsuitable wife for the king. Since her wedding, the queen was said to have struggled with life at the palace. The king’s critics claim she cut a dejected figure at court, resorting to plastic surgery and painting in her spare time to relieve the misery of her royal life.

Speaking about her death, one of the king’s closest courtiers Chief Lusendvo Fakudze said the king was finding the news “very painful” to bear. “I have read the reports that she took her own life but I don’t think they are right,” Chief Fakudze said. “The king finds her death very painful. They were a happy couple.”

According to the Chief, the monarch did not attend an all-night vigil for his dead wife and stayed at home during her funeral. The king, who will celebrate his 50th birthday this month, has been widely criticised for living a life of excess while many of his subjects battle with extreme poverty.

He is rumoured to have around 23 children, and lives in an opulent palace a few miles outside the Swazi administrative capital Lobamba. Mswati was educated in England at the independent Sherborne school in Dorset before being crowned king in 1986 at the age of 18 – just after he had finished his A-levels.