The Zulu royal family consists of the reigning monarch of the Zulus of South Africa, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, his consorts, legitimate descendants, near relatives and male-line descendants of his great-great-grandfather, King Mpande who, as a half-brother of the Zulu Pater Patriae, King Shaka, reigned from 1840 to 1872. Shaka's policies and conquests transformed a small clan into one of South Africa's most influential pre-colonial realms, extending over much of what is now KwaZulu-Natal.
The Nguni-speaking clan of the southern Bantus, which evolved into the Zulu people, takes its name from the third of its recorded chiefs. Malandela, believed to have reigned in the early part of the sixteenth century, is the patrilineal ancestor of the present king, whose lineage comes down from him through Chief Senzangakhona to the latter's son, Shaka. Originally part of the early nineteenth century Mtetwa Empire of Dingiswayo, the Zulus united, expanded and founded an independent empire under King Shaka who, however, never married. The dynasty continues to reign in the male-line descent of his half-brother, King Mpande, whose realm's borders were recognised by the Boers' Commandant-General Andries Pretorius in 1840. He had at least 28 children by different wives, many of whom have living descendants. In 1887 the British annexed Zululand, effectively mediatising the Zulu dynasty as paramount chiefs in the region. The Zulu people and dynasty retained their distinct cultural identity and a measure of independence under the governments of South Africa through the establishment of Zululand as a bantustan and the subsequent abolition of apartheid in the Republic.
As paramount chief within the Republic of South Africa and pursuant to the preservation of African traditional leadership, the hereditary head of the Zulu dynasty retains kingly dignity, ethnic leadership, ritual authority and a civil list, reigning but not ruling in KwaZulu Natal in conjunction with the province's UNdunankulu weSizwe samaZulu. The dynasty is Christian and practices polygamy, agnates of the dynasty bearing the prefix "Prince/Princess" and the surname "Zulu", while holding the rank of KaBhekuZulu, (i.e. prince of the Blood).
Incumbent and family
The present head of the Zulu royal family is King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, the current monarch of the Zulu nation of South Africa. He was born on 14 July 1948, in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal. He became king on the death of his father, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon in 1968.
As of 2004, Goodwill Zwelethini had six wives and 27 children:
- maDlamini (born Sibongile Winifred Dlamini), married 27 December 1969 at St Margaret's Church, Nongoma.
- Buthle MaMathe, born c1951. In May 1996, she and her daughter were seriously wounded in an assault during which they were clubbed, stabbed and shot.
- MaNtofombi Dlamini, born 1956, daughter of Sobhuza II of Swaziland and sister of Swaziland's current king, Mswati III, married 1973. A condition for this marriage was that she become great wife which, according to dynastic custom, confers preferential consideration of her progeny in the traditional posthumous selection of the king's successor.
- Thandi (born Thandikela Jane Ndlovu).
- Nompumelelo Mchiza, married 25 July 1992.
- Zola Zelusiwe Mafu, married 2004
- Prince Lethukuthula Zulu (by Queen MaDlamini), born 1970.
- Princess Sibusile Zulu (by Queen Buhle MaMathe), born 1972.
- Prince Misuzulu Zulu (by Queen Mantfombi), born 23 September 1974 in Kwahlabisa, KwaZulu-Natal, is pursuing a degree in International Studies in Jacksonville, Florida, and is a strong candidate for Zwelethini's successor. He is unmarried and has one son.
- Princess Ntandoyesizwe Zulu (by Queen Mantfombi), born 1976, married 13 April 2002 at Enyokeni Royal Palace, Nongoma, to Kgosi Oupa Moilwa, Chief of the Bahurutse Bagamoilwa. Civil ceremony 11 July 2004 in Pongola.
- Princess Nandi Zulu (by Queen Buhle MaMathe), born 1977, married (civil) 6 December 2002 in St John's Anglican Cathedral in Mthatha and (traditional) 7 December at the Thembu Great Place near Qunu, to Chief Mfundo Bovulengwa Mtirara, born 25 March 1973, Acting Deputy Paramount Chief of the Thembu from 2000, Chief of the Matye'ngqina Traditional Authority Area.
- Princess Lomkhosi (by Queen Mantfombi), born 1982.
- Prince Dennis Njeru Mucheke aka Charles, born 1984, studied aviation in Florida.
- Princess Bukhosibemvelo, (by Queen Mantfombi), born 1985, married Sipho Nyawo.
- Prince Shlobosenkosi Zulu (by Queen Buhle MaMathe) born 1988 studied at Kearsney College in Botha's Hill, Durban.
- Mnguni I
- Mnguni II
- Malandela kaLuzumana, son of Luzumana
- Zulu I kaMalandela, son of Malandela
- Zulu II kaNtombela founder and chief of the Zulu clan from ca. 1709
- Gumede kaZulu II, son of Zulu II, chief of the Zulu clan
- Phunga kaGumede (d. 1727), son of Gumede, chief of the Zulu clan up to 1727
- Mageba kaGumede (ca. 1667-1745), son of Gumede and brother of Phunga, chief of the Zulu clan from 1727 to 1745
- Ndaba kaMageba (ca. 1697-1763), son of Mageba, chief of the Zulu clan from 1745 to 1763
- Jama kaNdaba (ca. 1757-1781), son of Ndaba, chief of the Zulu clan from 1763 to 1781
- Mkabayi kaJama, daughter of Jama
- Senzangakhona kaJama (ca. 1757-1816), son of Jama, chief of the Zulu clan from 1781 to 1816
- Shaka kaSenzangakhona (ca. 1787-1828), son of Senzangakona, king from 1816 to 1828
- Dingane kaSenzangakhona (ca. 1795-1840), son of Senzangakhona and half-brother of Shaka, king from 1828 to 1840
- Mpande kaSenzangakhona (1798-1872), son of Senzangakhona and half-brother of Shaka and Dingane, king from 1840 to 1872
- Cetshwayo kaMpande (1834 - February 1884), son of Mpande, king from 1872 to 1884
- Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (1868-1913), son of Cetshwayo kaMpande, king from 1884 to 1913
- Phumuzuzulu kaDinuzulu (1890-1933), son of Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, king from 1913 to 1933
- Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaPhumuzuzulu (4 August 1924 - 17 September 1968), son of Solomon kaDinuzulu, king from 1948 to 1968
- Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu (b. 14 July 1948), son of Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon, king since 1971