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Sunday, 20 February, 2000, 04:25 GMT
Lesotho royals party on

Queen Motsoeneng Queen Motsoeneng's village welcomed the couple on Saturday


Celebrations marking the wedding of King Letsie III of Lesotho and Queen Karabo Motsoeneng enter their third and final day on Sunday as the couple travel to the King's home village of Matsieng.

The bride's village welcomed the king and queen on Saturday with daylong fetivities including singng, dancers and galloping horseriders.

King Letsie King Letsie arrived one hour after the queen
According to tradition Queen Motsoeneng, 23, arrived one hour before her husband so that she could welcome him herself to the settlement about 80km (50 miles) east of the capital Maseru.

Dramatic entrance

King Letsie, 36, made a dramatic entrance, arriving by car buit accompanied by dozens of horsemen wearing cone-shaped straw hats and carrying fighting sticks.

As the horsemen galloped back and forth across the field, the monarch gave a brief salute before kissing his bride, who was still wearing the dress in which she was married on Friday.

Warrior dancer Men and children recreated a traditional warrior dance
The couple sheltered under a canopy from the blistering as a series of musicians and dancers performed - the highlight being a warrior's battle dance by men and children in animal skins.

The party, attended by guests of honour including Swaziland's King Mswati as well as foreign diplomats and village elders, continued until nightfall.

Long-awaited marriage

The wedding has been widely welcomed by the people of the landlocked mountain kingdom, who had begun to wonder whether the shy and modest king would ever find himself a bride.

Children's choir Some of the bands had homemade intstruments
The marriage has become a focus of unity in a kingdom which has been riven by deep political divisions in recent years.

During unrest in 1998, opposition party supporters appealed to the king to intervene, believing that a general election result was fraudulent.

But the monarchy, once a powerful force in Lesotho, now plays a largely symbolic role in uniting the nation.

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See also:
18 Feb 00 |  Africa
Lesotho's batchelor king weds
02 Sep 99 |  Africa
Uganda's 'wedding of the century'
10 Dec 99 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Lesotho's white gold
22 Mar 99 |  Africa
Lesotho's prayers answered
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