South Africa's Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini died on Friday, the royal family said in a statement. He was 72.
The king was hospitalised in a KwaZulu-Natal hospital for diabetes treatment, local media reported.
"Tragically, while still in hospital, His Majesty's health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed away in the early hours of this morning," read the statement, issued by Inkatha Freedom Party founder and traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch Prince Mangosutho Buthelezi, on behalf of the royal family.
"On behalf of the Royal Family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support in this most difficult time."