When Prince Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in November 2017, speculation was rife as to who would be on the guest list at the royal wedding. The couple later made it known that they would have an intimate ceremony devoid of the usual royal traditions.
Choosing a small chapel for the wedding with only about 600 guests, Harry and Meghan avoided inviting foreign politicians or foreign royals to their nuptials but made an exception for Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and his wife, Princess Mabereng. Prince Seeiso of the tiny mountain kingdom became the only guest outside of the couple’s immediate family to have made the cut for the special occasion.
And here’s why.
Prince Seeiso, the youngest brother of the king of Lesotho, first met Harry in 2004 when the latter spent two months working in Lesotho as part of a gap year. The two soon became close friends and with their love for charity work, they both founded Sentebale in 2006, a charity that aims to help vulnerable children and young people in Lesotho, particularly those orphaned as a result of AIDS.
Their charity, Sentebale, is a Lesotho word that means “forget-me-not”. The two chose the name Sentebale to pay tribute to their mothers Princess Diana and Queen ‘Mamohato, who also worked with HIV and AIDS charities.
After traveling around Australia and Argentina on his gap year in 2004, Harry said it was the two months he spent in the tiny kingdom of Lesotho that affected him most.
“I was lucky enough to have an amazing guide in Prince Seeiso,” Harry wrote on Sentebale’s website. “His knowledge and compassion for his country showed me that there could be a way of making a difference in Lesotho that would go far beyond the building projects I worked on.”
Sentebale has since delivered adolescent-friendly HIV testing and counseling services to over 21,000 people and hopes to expand into four or five sub-Saharan African countries by the end of 2020.
Since founding Sentebale, the two Princes have been working closely together. Ahead of attending his longtime friend’s special day at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in May 2018 with his wife, Prince Seeiso said he believed Harry had ‘met his match’ in Meghan.
“Harry’s shown himself to be uniquely different in many ways, so I wasn’t at all surprised when I began to see a keener interest in this particular lady.
“He’s always wanted somebody who is a partner, who is a friend, and somebody who can continue to allow him to be ignited in the passions that he has, especially in global matters of charity,” the 53-year-old said.
“I think he met his match. But the script that seemingly was written in the stars for him, or the royal family, or his brother, to marry from a certain group or category – I think Harry has always shown he is not shackled by that. So I’m happy for him.”
Earlier, Prince Seeiso and his wife attended Prince William’s 2011 wedding to Kate with a guest list three times the size of Harry and Meghan’s. William, who is second in line to the throne after his father, met Prince Seeiso during a visit to the Mamahato Network Club for children affected by HIV in Maseru, Lesotho.
For many, Prince Seeiso’s relationship with the brothers can be attributed to the mountain kingdom’s long and historic link with Britain. It is documented that before Lesotho gained independence in 1966, it had been a British Protectorate since King Moshoeshoe asked Queen Victoria in 1868 for help in fighting off the Boer settlers of South Africa.
Today, like the British monarchy, the monarchy in Lesotho is a constitutional one. The tiny nation, which has English as one of its two official languages, has also maintained stronger links today with Wales. This is evident in the Dolen-Cymru or the Wales-Lesotho Link founded in 1985 as the world’s first country-to-country twinning, with formal links giving benefits to both.
The project has since been creating life-changing links between Lesotho and Wales including exchange programs in education, health, politics, and development work.
At the project’s 25th anniversary celebrations, Lesotho’s Queen Masenate was present. Then in 2012, five Lesotho athletes who competed in that year’s London Olympics were hosted by families in Wrexham, North Wales.