—nation join hands in celebrating a milestone for its most inspirational sovereign
King Letsie III turns 60 on 17 July 2023. To mark this auspicious occasion of His Majesty’s diamond jubilee, the Lesotho Times publishes this bumper supplement in honour of the nation’s most inspirational sovereign ever.
His Majesty’s 60th birthday assumes more significance in that it comes at a time when the nation is celebrating another of his major milestones; his silver jubilee (25 years) as reigning monarch.
King Letsie III is not only the symbol of our nation, he is the very essence of our Basothoness. He is our leader, our hope. For a quarter of a century after assuming the throne after the tragic passing of his father, King Moshoeshoe II, in January 1996, King Letsie III has led this nation with honour, dignity and distinction. He assumed the throne at a tender age and has seen it traverse difficult periods.
As we mark his 60th birthday, the best the government can do to honour him is to successfully complete the much delayed national reforms process, giving effect to the wishes of his subjects as expressed during the national outreach programme for their input.
King Letsie III was born Prince David Mohato Bereng Seeiso on 17 July 1963 at the Scott Hospital in Morija, south of the capital Maseru. He received his elementary education at Iketsetseng Private School in Maseru from 1968 to 1972 where he completed Standard Five. He travelled to the United Kingdom the following year to enrol at Gilling Castle, a Roman Catholic School run by the order of St. Benedictine in Yorkshire, where he completed his primary education in 1976. He then proceeded to his father’s alma mater, Ampleforth College in 1977, to complete his secondary schooling in 1980. He returned home in 1980 and enrolled at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law in 1984.
He returned to the United Kingdom the same year and completed a Diploma in English Legal Studies at the University of Bristol in 1986. He later enrolled at the University of Cambridge for a programme in Development Studies until 1989. He at the same time also enrolled at the University of London for a programme in Agricultural Economics. His Majesty is resultantly very passionate about farming and spends his spare time tending to his family’s cattle posts in the mountains.
Prince Mohato was inaugurated as the Principal Chief of Matsieng on December 16 1989. On 12 November 1990, he was sworn in as King after the then ruling Military Council forced his father, King Moshoeshoe II, into exile. He assumed the throne as King Letsie III after King Letsie I, the eldest son of the founder of the Basotho nation, King Moshoeshoe I.
King Letsie III abdicated the throne on January 25 1995, enabling the reinstallation of his father, King Moshoeshoe II, the very same day.
Sadly, King Moshoeshoe II died, in a car accident on January 15 1996. King Letsie 111 was then reinstalled as King and Head of State on February 7 1996. His official coronation took place on October 31 1997 in Maseru in the presence of world dignitaries including the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles, who has since taken over the reigns of that country as King Charles III after the passing of his mother Queen Elizabeth 11 on 8 September 2022.
King Letsie III celebrated his 25th anniversary as reigning monarch on 31 October 2022.
On February 18 2000, King Letsie III married Miss Karabo Motsoeneng, who became Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso. Their majesties have three children: Princess Senate (born 7 October 2001), Princess ‘Maseeiso (born November 20 2004) and Crown Prince Lerotholi (born April 18 2007).
Because of his interest and passion for agriculture and his unparalleled integrity, King Letsie III was on 1 December 2016 honoured by the Food and Agriculture Organisation as its nutrition ambassador to the world. The highly influential position has enabled the King to traverse the world promoting health and nutritional issues.
The King also has a passion for horse riding, squash, tennis and rugby. He appreciates jazz and traditional music. As a constitutional monarch, King Letsie III ’s duties are largely ceremonial. But he is a renowned hard worker who has served his country with utmost distinction. He has taken the lead in a significant number of national issues, including the fight against HIV/AIDS and promoting agriculture to alleviate poverty. He on rare occasions speaks out on contentious national issues. When he does, everyone listens.
As a sign of his unparalleled and untrammelled popularity, a number of scientific research surveys done by the respected pan African research organisation, Afrobarometer, have confirmed that a majority of Basotho want King Ketsie III to be given more powers in the running of state affairs to foster stability and prosperity in the Kingdom. A majority of Basotho reiterated the same during the national outreach programme to get their input into the national reforms process aimed at bringing enduring stability into Lesotho. Many other events have underscored the popularity of the King.
King Letsie III is a Catholic. He is a member of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George. He has worked hard to promote the principles of Catholicism and good citizenship in Lesotho and the world.