Updated: Aug 7, 2021
In 2009 renowned wildlife artist Craig Bone illustrated my first book, ‘Manzovo-Place of the Elephants.’ With a sequel in mind, Craig agreed to fly out to Africa a few months later so we could go and do some research in the Kingdom of the Zulus. One cannot simply arrive unannounced, so we sought permission from the King himself, His Majesty King Zwelithini Goodwill (RIP).
Not only were we granted permission, but the King insisted we stay at his Royal Lodge near Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal. In return for the King’s imperial blessing, Craig agreed to do a portrait of the monarch.
Dining with the King that night, it was agreed that he would pose in ceremonial dress—an impressive costume of leopard skins, royal feathers, amashoba (cow’s tails) and plumed headdress.
Arriving at the lodge the following morning, the King was dressed and ready to pose for a series of photographs. With his impressive bulk perched on a small stool, he adopted a regal posture and peered into the camera. Squinting through his viewfinder, Craig was suddenly aware of a looming royal faux pas: with his legs spread, bits of the King’s anatomy were on clear display.
Having shared a bottle of the good stuff the night before, Craig felt familiar enough with his new friend to bring this inelegant state of affairs to the King’s attention. Protocol dictated that we refer to him as ‘His Majesty the King,’ but in that awkward moment, Craig completely forgot the convention. “Ah, sir … I mean your eminence … no, sorry, King … wait, wait, your highness.”
By this stage the King was roaring with laughter. “What is it, Craig?”
He practically fell off his chair when Bone told him to sit a little more modestly.
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