King Sobhuza II of Swaziland, the world's longest-reigning monarch, celebrated his 76th birthday on Tuesday (22 July).
GV King enters fairground in land-rover as soldiers chant greeting (2 shots)
SV Members of armed forces
SV King reviewing troops
SV Tribal dancers, women, crossing fairground
SV King's wives look on
SV Marching girls on parade (2 shots)
SV Tribesmen parading past King (2 shots)
CU King on rostrum
GV Military band and troops march past (3 shots)
Initials BB/2306 AMN/JB/BB/2330
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Background: King Sobhuza II of Swaziland, the world's longest-reigning monarch, celebrated his 76th birthday on Tuesday (22 July). Helping to celebrate the event were 45,000 of his loyal subjects. They included two busloads of wives, princesses and shield-waving warriors.
The diminutive, bearded and sprightly monarch -- Lion of the Mighty Claw ... was feted at a mass rally in Manzini's trade fairground.
For his new modern army, it was a chance to show their military might for the first time. More than 1,200 soldiers and policemen roared the royal salute and a 100-gun salute was fired to the man who has led his people for 54 years.
In contrast to the modern, green-uniformed army in South African styled helmets were several hundred Swazi warriors, rattling shields, blowing ancient trombones and murmuring and whistling their homage.
The King's wives -- reputed to number 100 -- sat demurely to one side during the birthday gun salute.
King Sobhuza II has been ruling this land-locked Southern African nation by decree for the past two years. He scrapped the British-style constitution inherited when Swaziland became independent in 1968. The King now rules with a council of ministers.