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Swaziland's teen-age crown prince became King Mswati III today...

By KEVIN JACOBS

MBABANE, Swaziland -- Swaziland's teen-age crown prince became King Mswati III today in a ritual ceremony and made his first public appearance as monarch of the tiny African nation.

The 18-year-old British schoolboy, the former Prince Makhostive, became the new king at about 4 p.m. following a secret daylong coronation ritual at the royal residence, Elusaseni.

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Following the ceremony, the new monarch emerged at the head of a phalanx of warriors to greet visiting royalty, heads of states and dignataries, including Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, South African President Pieter Botha and President Reagan's daughter, Maureen.

King Mswati, wearing a crown of three white feathers nestled among red feathers, did not make any public statement but acknowledged the greetings with a nod of his head.

Then, with a roar from his warrior guard of honor, dressed in traditional tribal garb, the new king left for the royal residence, where he was expected to stay until his next appearance Saturday.

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One government official admitted that much of today's coronation would be improvised because no one clearly remembers the traditions of the investiture last performed in 1921.

Some Mbabane residents said they recalled the coronation included the bare-handed killing of a black bull by royal warriors. Some of the bull's organs were used in the rituals, they said.

They said the clear blue skies over Mbabane today were an omen of wise and long rule by the prince -- to become the world's youngest monarch.

Whatever happens behind the reed fences of the Elusaseni Royal Residence, Makhosetive, still a student at England's exclusive Sherborne School, will emerge as the sixth king of a dynasty at least 300 years old.

Government sources speculated that he would take the name of his father and call himself Sobhuza III or that he would adopt the name of the nation's founder and be known as King Mswati II.

Sobhuza died four years ago at the age of 83 after a record reign of 61 years. He fathered an estimated 500 sons by some 100 wives.

Sobhuza ruled with absolute power, but he is remembered by Swaziland's 650,000 people as a wise and kind leader.

Guests invited to meet the king Saturday in his first public appearance as monarch include President Reagan's daughter, Maureen, Britain's Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Makhosetive's English headmaster, Ralph Mowat.

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'Very few headmasters have the opportunity to see one of their students crowned king and head of state,' Mowat told reporters.

'I hope the education he has been receiving in England has prepared him well for the onerous duties he will have to undertake.'

Also in Mbabane for the event were King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho and King Goodwill Zwelethini of the Zulus, who inhabit a South African tribal homeland to the south of Swaziland.

Officials said the two kings might witness some of the rituals.

President Samora Machel of Mozambique, President Pieter Botha of South Africa and President Quett Masire of Botswana were among neighboring heads of state from at least 30 countries expected in Mbabane, officials said.

Unconfirmed reports said Kenya's President Daniel Arap Moi canceled plans to attend in protest against Botha's presence.

Oliver Tambo, president of neighboring South Africa's outlawed African National Congress, was expected but failed to arrive early today from the Lusaka, Zambia, headquarters of his guerrilla movement.

Protocol chief John Dube told reporters that ordinary Swazis would know nothing about the secret rituals, waiting until Saturday to meet their king in a stadium where a daylong program of dancing and celebration is planned.

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'I have been in Swaziland for many years, but there are places in the royal kraal (enclosure) that I do not know about.

'Women do not go into cattle kraals, men do not go into kitchens and the traditions extend to the royal kraals,' said Dube.

He said about 1,000 protocol marshals would be onpatrol to ensure that spectators, mainly visitors, do not offend local traditions.

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