Queen regent Mantsebo Amelie Seeiso of Lesotho

Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho is a tiny nation encircled in South Africa known for its mountains and rich basotho blankets and horses. It is nicknamed the mountain kingdom of Africa, the Switzerland of Africa due to its cold temperatures during winter. It is a constitutional monarchy ruled by an only male succession rule to the throne. The country is ruled but the house of Moshoeshoe named after its first King Moshoeshoe I who consolidated various clans to become the supreme monarch.

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There is a popular tradition of putting women as regents. Mantsebo Amelia Seeiso was a queen consort or Mofumahali of Lesotho then Basutoland as the wife of late King Simeon Seeiso Griffith who died in 1940 after 10 months on the throne.

She was born in 1902 to Chief Sempe Nkuebe, grandson of King Letsie I thus she was a great grand daughter of King Letsie I. She became the senior wife of Prince Simon Seeiso Griffith in 1925 through a cross-cousin marriage. Together they had a daughter Princess Ntsebo Lydia Seeiso who married to the son of chief Nkhahle Lebona of Thaba-Tsoeu. The next in line was her step son the later King Moshoeshoe II from the second wife who was young at the time.

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The sons of Moshoeshoe chose her as regent after the death of her husband. The battle was between the late King brother Bereng and Queen Mantsebo. Despite much resistance from the brother who supported tradition against femal rule, Mantsebo was installed as regent in 1941. She was now to bear the title Morena as regent aged just 37. She would become regent for the next 20 years until 1960 when she gave up the throne to her step son King Moshoeshoe ii of Lesotho.

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During his time in the United Kingdom for his studies, Queen regent Mantsebo made various trips to London to visit her step son and meet the monarch of UK. She extsneively visted europe in 1957 to UK and to Rome Italy to meet the pope.

Queen regent Mantsebo was honoured with the order of the British empire by King George vi of UK during his tour of southern Africa with his family.

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Queen regent Mantsebo is recognised has having set foundations for Lesotho constitutional monarchy. She died in 1964.


P. Bereng, Haboo, (Maseru, Lilala Publications, 2008)

Royal Museum and Archives

Essays on the Aspects of Political Economy of Lesotho 1500-2000, (Roma, National University of Lesotho, 2002)

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