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South African Lion King actor ‘baffled’ over Meghan Markle comments

Dr John Kani said that the royal wedding was ‘no big deal’ in South Africa

Joanna Whitehead
Thursday 01 September 2022 08:41 BST
Meghan Markle top five interviews

A Lion King actor and friend of Nelson Mandela says he is “baffled” after Meghan Markle claimed she was told people in South Africa “rejoiced in the streets” over her marriage to the Duke of Sussex.

In a recent interview, the Duchess of Sussex told The Cut magazine that an unnamed South African actor from the cast of the 2019 film of The Lion King made the surprise proclamation during the London premiere.

“He looked at me, and he’s just like light,” Meghan recalled. “‘I just need you to know: When you married into [the royal family], we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison’.”

However, Dr John Kani, who voiced the mandrill shaman Rafiki in the Disney film, has now claimed that he was the only South African actor in the production, and also said that he had never met the Duchess and did not attend the UK premiere, according to MailOnline.

The Royal Shakespeare Company veteran insisted that Markle’s 2018 wedding to Prince Harry was “no big deal” in South Africa, stating: “I cannot even tell you now what month she married or what year”.

Dr Kani said that her comments “seem like something of a faux pas by her”, adding that “it just may be a misremembering on her side”.

He said that the only other South African involved in the film was Lebo M, a composer who worked alongside Hans Zimmer, but that he was not a part of the cast.

“We had no South African link to the wedding or to her marrying Harry,” he continued. “I am truly surprised by this. For me, it is a non-event, the whole thing.”

Dr Kani’s comments echo those made by Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile Mandela, who said he was “surprised” by Markle’s remark.

The MP and tribal chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council said: “Nelson Mandela’s release from jail was the culmination of nearly 350 years of struggle in which generations of our people paid with their lives.

“It can never be compared to the celebration of someone’s wedding,” he added.

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