The new Head of the Rwandan Royal House has been announced by the Rwandan Royal Council of Abiru via the Prester John Institute, the Royal and Imperial Council of Foreign Nobility, of which the late King Kigeli V of Rwanda was Regent. His Royal Highness Prince Emmanuel Bushayija was named by His Majesty King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa to be his successor. He accedes to the exiled throne as His Majesty King Yuhi VI Bushayija.
Rwanda abolished its monarchy by referendum on 28th January 1961, however the Royal House of Rwanda has always questioned the legitimacy of the vote. Accordingly, it holds that the crown continues in exile.
The new Head of the Rwandan Royal House is the son of His Royal Highness Théoneste Bushayija and grandson of His Majesty King Yuhi V Masinga, and is a nephew of the late king. Unlike in some monarchical dynasties where succession to the royal house passes to the nearest relevant heir, the custom of the Royal House of Rwanda is for the king to name his successor. The Royal Council of Abiru was privy to His Majesty’s final wishes about his succession and, in respect of traditional custom, the new Head of the Royal House has been announced.
The announcement was made by Boniface Benzinge, His Majesty’s Chancellor, who he appointed as Head of the Council of Abiru. The Chancellor was close to the king, and can be seen by his side in His Majesty’s last public interview of 30th August 2016. He also accompanied His Majesty on his last visit to the United Kingdom in June 2016. The close relationship they held was noted by Ariel Sabar, writing for the Washingtonian in 2013. He observed that the Chancellor, having served the king loyally since 1973, had made ‘many personal sacrifices for the king’. He remained close to him until the end.
The new Head of the Royal House was born in Rwanda on 20th December 1960. His Majesty grew up in exile in Uganda, where he studied at Iganga Secondary School and later worked for PEPSI Cola in Kampala. He then went on to work in the tourism industry in Kenya, before returning to Rwanda between 1994 and 2000. Since then, His Majesty has lived in the United Kingdom, where he is married with two children.
A Funeral Mass for the late king is scheduled to take place at the Byzantine Catholic Chapel of the Domus Pacis Centre in Portugal. King Kigeli’s body has been repatriated to Rwanda for its burial, following a dispute among family members about its final resting place.
The full announcement can be seen here.