A new Zulu king was named in South Africa amid scenes of chaos, as members of the royal family questioned Prince Misuzulu Zulu’s claim to the title following his father’s death, and bodyguards suddenly whisked him away from the public announcement at a palace. The controversy over the next king, a largely ceremonial role but one with great significance for South Africa and its 12 million Zulu people, has arisen after the death in March of King Goodwill Zwelithini, who had reigned since 1968. Zwelithini apparently named one of his six wives, Queen Mantfombi Shiyiwe Dlamini Zulu, as the “regent of the Zulu kingdom” in his will, but she died after holding the title for only a month, throwing the royal succession into turmoil. 10 ‘commoners’ who wed royals The commotion broke out last week at the reading of Queen Mantfombi’s will and hours after a memorial service for her. The queen’s will named 46-year-old Prince Misuzulu, her eldest son with King Zwelithini, as the heir and next king. But another prince objected and interrupted the announcement at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Two princesses also have questioned whether the late king’s will gave Queen Mantfombi the right to nominate a successor upon her death. King Zwelithini reportedly had 28 children with his different wives, and Queen Mantfombi was not his first wife. A dispute over succession had been brewing since the late king’s death, fascinating many South Africans with their very own royal scandal. In fact, the Zulu monarchy had been rather drama free since King Goodwill Zwelithini reign started in 1968, and the king was popular among other royals, including long-time friend Princess Charlene of Monaco , who attended his funeral on March 18. In fact, the King considered Princess Charlene, originally from South Africa , a “daughter”, hence she even sat with his family during the proceedings. Did you know Prince Philip is related to royals in Greece, Denmark and Russia? But that’s all changed now. Significant to the dispute is the fate of the king’s assets and the vast amounts of land traditionally owned by the Zulu people and now held in a trust. Estimates say the trust controls nearly 30 per cent of the land in KwaZulu-Natal province, or around 28,000 square kilometres (10,810 square miles). The king is the sole trustee. Last week, Prince Misuzulu, who wore a traditional leopard-skin headband reserved for royalty and chiefs, called for unity among the Zulu royals at his mother’s memorial service on May 7. “We have no doubt we will unite as a family,” he said in a message read out by his younger sister, Princess Ntandoyesizwe Zulu. “Let us emulate the king by being peaceful.” The Zulu king has no political or even constitutional position, but his traditional authority is recognised in KwaZulu-Natal, where he is said to “reign but not rule”. More than that, the king holds an important role in bridging the gap between traditional customs and modern democracy in South Africa, where Zulus are the largest ethnic group among the country’s 60 million people. Forbes put King Zwelithini’s net worth at nearly US$20 million, while the Zulu royal household is given an annual budget of around US$5 million by the South African government. King Zwelithini, who had diabetes, reportedly died from a Covid-19-related illness at the age of 72. Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .