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International royals

Late King’s Possessions Stolen From Home

A number of items belonging to the late King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa of Rwanda have been stolen from his home, including the contents of three safes and a security briefcase. 


Photo Credit: Rwanda Library via Wikimedia Commons CC

The stolen items include the late king’s last will and testament, confirmation of His Majesty’s burial wishes, and a number of identity documents.

King Kigeli V of Rwanda died in exile in the United States of America at 80 years of age on 16 October 2016.  His Majesty had sought political asylum in the United States and never renounced his Rwandan citizenship or throne.

King Kigeli V was well known for his humanitarian work to support Rwandans living in exile after the atrocities of the mass genocides of the last century.

He reigned for a short period from 28 July 1959 to 28 January 1961 after the untimely and unexpected death of his half-brother, King Mutara III Rudahigwa.  Kigeli’s reign came to an end when a Belgian-supported coup seized power, leaving him as the last anointed King of Rwanda.

Resolutions number 1580 and 1579 of 20 December 1960 of the General Assembly of the United Nations called for the restoration of King Kigeli to the throne, amongst other matters.  The Government of Rwanda never fulfilled this demand.

King Kigeli V had often expressed his willingness, and even desire, to return to Rwanda as its constitutional monarch, but the Government of Rwanda replied that he was welcome to return as an ordinary citizen.  This was not to Kigeli’s satisfaction without a further referendum on the will of the Rwandan people.

Such were His Majesty’s wishes as to his burial, according to his web site. He did not wish for his remains to return to Rwanda under a government that would not respect the United Nations Resolutions on his return as sovereign, without first there having been a contemporary vote of the Rwandan people on the restoration of the monarchy.

Family members of the late king are divided as to when His Majesty’s remains should be communicated to Rwanda.  The senior advisers to the late king are concerned that King Kigeli V’s body would not be treated with respect if it were to be returned to Rwanda now.

The Government of Rwanda sold off the king’s palace in the country, which was still the late king’s heritage, demolishing the same and permitting the site’s development as a car park.

The tradition of the Royal House of Rwanda is that the successor to the king is a matter of the king’s choice, which is communicated by the same to his Chancellor and his senior advisers during his lifetime.  The succeeding heir is then announced at the time of the king’s burial.