Life of a Swazi King: Bare-Chested Brides and Rolls Royces

But Hermann says that the law has very little to do with terrorism. "They're using the terrorist term as a weapon against political opponents," he says.

The monarchy claims that Swazi people don't want a Western-style democracy, that it's incompatible to Swaziland tradition. The king does remain popular with the masses, but cracks in his support are beginning to show.

While the rule of law under King Mswati may be traditional, the lifestyle of the royal family is decidedly modern – and lavish. He reportedly has as many as 14 wives and more than 30 children. Royal protocol makes it impossible to know exactly how much money the royal family has and how it is being spent, but according to the Freedom House's "Countries at the Crossroads" report last year, the king requested state funds to purchase a private jet and build new royal palaces for his wives.

King Mswati and Royal Family Live in Luxury

He is known to own several luxury cars including a Daimler Chrysler Maybach, worth about $700,000. Earlier this year Princess Sikhanyiso, King Mswati's eldest daughter, was number 20 in Forbes Magazine's "20 Hottest Young Royals" list, sharing the title with Britain's Princes William and Harry, among others.

The magazine compiled the list by ranking "international Web and media presence as well as family wealth." Though she has spoken out in the past against some Swazi traditions, like polygamy, she also benefits from her position. Unlike most college age kids in Swaziland, she is able to acquire schooling abroad and currently studies at Biola University in California.

But some Swazis are beginning to publicly question King Mswati's extravagance. Last September, the king celebrated his 40th birthday and the nation's 40 years of independence by throwing a nationwide party reportedly costing more than $10 million.

A month prior the local press reported that nine of the king's wives had chartered a plane to go on a shopping trip to Europe and Dubai.

Both instances sparked protests by activists who said the money could be better spent improving the lives of Swaziland citizens, some of the poorest in the world.

Life for ordinary Swazis is by most accounts extremely hard.

The country boasts the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world. In 2005 the Swazi Ministry of Health released a survey finding that nearly half the country was infected with disease. The numbers have fallen recent in years, but still today more than a quarter of adult Swazis are living HIV/AIDS. But they aren't living long -- the disease has devastated the population, with the average life expectancy rate at 32 years old. More than 70 percent of Swazi citizens live in poverty, a sharp contrast to the life of the royal family. That is something more and more Swazis, who are struggling to survive, are noticing.

"People I talked to say that the former king didn't live such a lavish lifestyle, at least not publicly" says Hermann. "Ordinary Swazis are beginning to ask: where in our tradition does it say the king needs to drive a Rolls Royce?"

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