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South African court rules new Zulu king can be crowned

March 2, 2022 GMT
FILE - Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin, center, flanked by fellow warriors in traditional dress at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace, during a ceremony, in Nongoma, Friday May 7, 2021. The new Zulu king can be crowned in South Africa after a court on Wednesday March 2, 2022, settled a dispute over whether Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin named as heir to the throne last year had a rightful claim to it. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin, center, flanked by fellow warriors in traditional dress at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace, during a ceremony, in Nongoma, Friday May 7, 2021. The new Zulu king can be crowned in South Africa after a court on Wednesday March 2, 2022, settled a dispute over whether Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin named as heir to the throne last year had a rightful claim to it. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin, center, flanked by fellow warriors in traditional dress at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace, during a ceremony, in Nongoma, Friday May 7, 2021. The new Zulu king can be crowned in South Africa after a court on Wednesday March 2, 2022, settled a dispute over whether Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin named as heir to the throne last year had a rightful claim to it. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin, center, flanked by fellow warriors in traditional dress at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace, during a ceremony, in Nongoma, Friday May 7, 2021. The new Zulu king can be crowned in South Africa after a court on Wednesday March 2, 2022, settled a dispute over whether Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin named as heir to the throne last year had a rightful claim to it. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin, center, flanked by fellow warriors in traditional dress at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace, during a ceremony, in Nongoma, Friday May 7, 2021. The new Zulu king can be crowned in South Africa after a court on Wednesday March 2, 2022, settled a dispute over whether Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithin named as heir to the throne last year had a rightful claim to it. (AP Photo/File)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — A new Zulu king can be crowned in South Africa after a court settled a dispute Wednesday over whether the prince named as heir to the throne last year had a rightful claim to it.

A KwaZulu-Natal high court judge in the city of Pietermaritzburg ruled that Prince Misuzulu KaZwelithini, the eldest surviving son of the late king, is the “undisputed successor to the throne.”

The Zulu king has a largely ceremonial role in South Africa but holds great significance for the 12 million Zulus who make up the country’s largest ethnic group. The king also inherits control over large portions of land and a significant fortune.

The battle over Prince Misuzulu’s claim began last year with the death of King Goodwill Zwelithini, who had held the throne since 1968. The king’s will named one of his wives as Queen Regent of the Zulus, but she died a month after the king, leaving her son Prince Misuzulu to be named the king in waiting.

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Two Zulu princesses said the late king’s will had been forged and went to court to stop Misuzulu’s coronation.

The judge ruled Misuzulu was the rightful heir, giving the go-ahead for South Africa to witness the first Zulu coronation in more than half a century and the first in the country’s post-apartheid era.

However, the judge suspended the execution of the late king’s will pending a court hearing to decide on its authenticity. King Zwelithini’s fortune has been estimated at $20 million.