Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso of Lesotho was born on 2 June 1976 as Anna Karabo Motšoeneng as the daughter of Thekiso Motšoeneng and his wife ‘Makarabo. She was christened in the Roman Catholic Church with the name Anna.
Not much is known about her youth. She enrolled in the Machabeng International College in Maseru in 1990 and graduated with an International General Certificate for Secondary Education and an International Baccalaureate diploma. In 1997, she enrolled at the National University of Lesotho, and she had first met King Letsie III in 1996. She did not finish her studies after they became engaged in October 1999.
Their wedding took place on 18 February 2000 at Maseru in the Setsoto Stadium. The ceremony was conducted by Archbishop Bernard Mohlalisi with a crowd of around 40,000 people watching. It was the first time in modern history that a commoner had married a royal in Lesotho. They went on to have three children together; Princess Senate (born 7 October 2001), Princess ‘Maseeiso (born 20 November 2004) and Prince Lerotholi (born 18 April 2007). Women are barred from inheriting the throne in Lesotho, so Prince Lerotholi is the heir to the throne. ‘Masenate later lamented having only had three children in an interview with the Lesotho Times in 2014, “I would have loved to have more children, but I think it is risky to conceive at 38. Maybe I should have had one early after Prince Lerotholi, but now my biological clock is telling me the time is up. I have read a lot about reproductive health-related risks and some medical researchers, in their studies, don’t recommend women to consider falling pregnant at my age. When your eggs are no longer that fresh to make a healthy baby, then it’s better to be on the safe side.”1
She credited her mother-in-law Queen ‘Mamohato for making her feel welcome in the Royal Family as a commoner. In the interview, she said, “As you know, I was a commoner who married His Majesty, which was very rare and also says a lot about his humble nature. I am thankful for the support I received from the Royal Family. His family accepted and loved me and taught me almost everything that I know today. I am now comfortable and no longer intimidated by my role as Queen. When the Queen Mother passed away (on 6 September 2003), it was hard for me for some time because she had been my pillar of strength.”
She continued her mother-in-law’s work with the Queen’s National Trust Fund – founded in 1985 and has also been involved in HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns. In the interview, she said, “It would make me happy to see the Trust Fund helping all the underprivileged children countrywide. I know that this would give them hope and let them know we are there for them.”