The Zulu royal family in South Africa has declared the death of their monarch, Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, who became regent only a month ago.
Following the death of her husband, King Goodwill Zwelithini, Queen Mantfombi, 65, was named interim leader of the country’s largest ethnic group.
The prime minister of the United Kingdom said the queen’s death had come as a shock to the family, who were “utterly devastated.”
There is yet to be a successor appointed as ruler of the 11 million-strong nation.
“It is with profound shock and sadness that the Royal Family declares Her Majesty Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, Regent of the Zulu Nation’s sudden passing,” said Prime Minister Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in a statement.
He wanted to reassure people that “no leadership vacuum in the Zulu Nation” would exist.
According to South African newspapers, Queen Mantfombi was admitted to hospital a week ago after suffering from an undisclosed illness.
After her 72-year-old husband, King Zwethilini, died in hospital from diabetes-related complications on March 24, she was named to the role.
He was Africa’s longest-serving monarch, having ruled the country for nearly 50 years.
Queen MaDlamini Zulu was the most powerful of the king’s wives, as she was a descendant of royalty.
She was Eswatini’s sister and Africa’s first absolute ruler, King Mswati III.
Queen MaDlamini Zulu had eight children with the late king, including five sons.
According to sources, their eldest son, Prince Misuzulu, 47, is the favorite to succeed to the throne.