London: A 22-year-old woman fled to Britain from the southern African nation of Swaziland and is seeking asylum after refusing to join the harem of 13 wives of Swazi king Mswati III.
Tintswalo Ngobeni fled to Britain after she caught the attention of the millionaire monarch, known for his lavish lifestyle, the Daily Mail reported.
As part of Swazi custom, 45-year-old King Mswati III is permitted to choose a new bride every year. He is father to 27 children. The king’s sixth wife escaped from the royal harem last year, citing years of “emotional and physical abuse” by her husband.
Ngobeni, who now lives in Birmingham, was 15 when the king made his advances after seeing her at the palace of his fourth wife. She said she was terrified when she learned of his marriage intentions.
“His wives are kept in their palace, surrounded by bodyguards, and they can’t really go anywhere unless the king says so. The only thing they do is go to America once a year, as the king gives them a shopping allowance,” she told the daily.
Ngobeni was forced to abandon a comfortable lifestyle in a private boarding school and escape to Britain.
“I didn’t have a choice. Nobody has ever turned down the king or dares to disobey him, so I just disappeared,” she told the daily.
Since her arrival, Ngobeni has become a vocal opponent of the oppressive Swazi regime.
Ngobeni’s first plea for political asylum in Britain was denied in 2011.
Last month, she was arrested and taken to an immigration detention centre.
However, she was later released and has now been granted an appeal by the Home Office.