Thousands of people are expected to flock to the palace to witness King Goodwill Zwelithini formally wed his sixth wife, Zola Mafu.

Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal -

Local and international guests arriving for the Zulu royal wedding were on Friday welcomed with song and dance.

Excitement was palpable on Friday night as the small town of Ulundi readied itself to host one of the biggest weddings in the country.

King Goodwill Zwelithini will on Saturday marry his Swazi fiancée, Zola Mafu, in front of an estimated 30 000 guests.

Among the dignitaries who arrived early on Friday to the sound of drums and traditional dances was Italy’s ambassador.

Other dignitaries expected to attend are President Jacob Zuma and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The town was buzzing with prominent business people, politicians from various parties and security personnel.

Staff at Ulundi’s Holiday Inn Garden Court even changed their uniform, donning traditional gear and decking out the hotel with Zulu ornaments as a symbol of respect.

Local traditional music and dance groups were also putting the final touches to their performances. White marquees for the main event had been erected at Ulundi Regional Sport Complex.

Traditional proceedings are expected to start after 11am.

The event moves to Cetshwayo’s Ondini Palace tomorrow where a traditional ceremony, umabo - the exchange of gifts between the bride and groom’s families - will take place. The king will also be celebrating his 66th birthday on Sunday.

- Independent on Saturday