1986 Daimler Double-Six Series 3 - Mswati III, King of Eswatini

1986 Daimler Double-Six Series 3 - Mswati III, King of Eswatini

Supplied new to Africa’s youngest monarch in 1986, this low-mileage Double-Six Series 3 has a unique royal history. Words & Photography Craig Cheetham.

History Fit for a king DAIMLER DOUBLE-SIX S3

The remarkable story of a recently repatriated Daimler Double-Six Series 3 that was previously owned by the King of Swaziland

Daimler Double-Six Series 3 might not be the obvious choice of car for an 18-year-old, but then, the Crown Prince Makhosetive of Swaziland was no ordinary teenager. Educated at Sherborne School in Dorset, ‘Makho’ was a child with a very clear future ahead of him. In 1983, following the death of his father, he was made Crown Prince of Zimbabwe, awaiting the conclusion of his education before he could take the crown. He went to school in the UK knowing that he would be a king. Just six days after his 18th birthday, in April 1986, he returned to Swaziland and was crowned King Mswati III.

1986 Daimler Double-Six Series 3 - Mswati III, King of Eswatini

He was Africa’s youngest king and ruled an absolute monarchy. He still does, having survived multiple coups and officially renamed Swaziland as Eswatini in 2018 (absolute monarchs can do as they choose). He currently has 18 wives and is believed to have 36 children.

1986 Daimler Double-Six Series 3 - Mswati III, King of Eswatini

He also has quite a few cars. Indeed, Mswati III is known for his love of fast and luxurious cars, which are often specified in solid white – his favourite colour.

And, in 1986, just days after his coronation, he bought himself a car that he’d grown rather fond of during his days in Dorset – a Daimler Double-Six Series 3.

1986 Daimler Double-Six Series 3 - Mswati III, King of Eswatini

The usual buyer demographic for a Daimler V12 was an older gentleman, captain of industry, perhaps, or recent retiree. The polygamous King Mswati III was neither. He acquired the car even before he took his first wife, but by the end of 1986 he had several of each. Members of the Swaziland royal family have become regular customers of Jaguar Cars Ltd, and this car was one of their first.

Today, it’s in the UK having been imported in late 2021 by Mike Driver, a specialist dealer who focuses on bringing cars from South Africa to the UK.

“We bought the Double-Six for a customer because it was a really clean, lovely example,” said Mike. “Old Jaguars from South Africa are usually a good buy, because the climate is so good to them and they’re never rotten. It was only when we found the original sales documents that we realised this was one of the royal cars.”

1986 Daimler Double-Six Series 3 - Mswati III, King of Eswatini

Of course, its use was classified other than that it was registered to the king’s residence, just days after his coronation, but it’s a fascinating facet of its history, given that its first keeper was (and remains) one of the most controversial figures in African history. There aren’t many folk who can claim to have a car once owned by a monarch, after all.

It’s not known how long the king owned the car, but it definitely remained in Zimbabwe until 2015 when, after covering just 40,000km (around 25,000 miles), it was acquired by Jaguar specialists Southern Jaguar, Cape Town, and sold to its first South African owner, who covered just over 10,000km before selling the white saloon to Mike. The car has now covered more than 50,000km (30,000 miles) and today lives in Norfolk, in the ownership of a private enthusiast. It’s a far cry from its original life in Mbabane…

Despite his lascivious lifestyle, it appears that King Mswati III’s love for cars meant that the Daimler was treated well. Its history papers from early on in its life are classified, but the condition is beautiful. There’s certainly a lot to admire about the bodywork, which is in superb original order. There are a couple of small marks on the driver’s door and evidence of a repaired scratch on one back door, but these are very small areas that don’t jump out at you. The overall condition is fabulous, and it has aged brilliantly.

The chrome and trim are in generally good order, too, although minor sun damage to the rubber seals points to its previous life in sunnier climes, while there’s also the shallowest of dents in the rear bumper. The unique Daimler grille and fluted boot plinth are in great condition, as are the Pepperpot alloy wheels – we doubt the Bridgestone tyres have royal heritage, though, as they look far too new.

1986 Daimler Double-Six Series 3 - Mswati III, King of Eswatini

It’s also absolutely beautiful inside, as is to be expected from a Daimler. After all, this isn’t a Jaguar; it’s something a whole lot more special.

The cream leather is offset by grey carpets and dark walnut veneers on the dash, door tops and centre console. King Mswati also specified the four-seater layout, with a pair of individual rear seats in place of the three-seater bench seen on Jaguars and optional on the Daimler. The rear tray tables normally seen in the Daimler were deleted though, presumably to allow for more elegant access and egress either for His Highness or whichever of his wives was travelling with him.

It’s an unusual specification, too, with a Highline radio-cassette player, LCD trip computer and dual ashtrays.

To drive, it’s as lovely as you’d expect from such a low-mileage Double-Six. All the plumbing (and there’s a lot of it) appears to be in good order, while the 5.3-litre V12 picks up speed eagerly, but serenely, with unbeatable refinement and super-smooth power delivery.

1986 Daimler Double-Six Series 3 - Mswati III, King of Eswatini

You can imagine the appeal of its finger-light steering and sheer ease of control as the young king was ferried through thronging masses – and imagine the scenes is what you must do because Zimbabwe’s state-controlled media prevented any unofficial films being released after the king’s coronation. His monarchy is absolute to this day, and what he says goes, 35 years since he was crowned and the Daimler was first registered.

Like King Mswati III, then, this Daimler is a survivor, and while the monarch of the former Swaziland – renamed Eswatini in 2018 as a 50th birthday present to himself – continues to reign (despite multiple attempts at revolution from his people), the Daimler has retired to a far more sedate life near the Norfolk coast. There are some who believe the king should do the same.

Mswati III, King of Eswatini, in 2019

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