The memorial service for the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini took place at the Khethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma.
Dozens of people, including dignitaries and political heads from neighbouring countries, streamed into the grounds of the palace, where an elaborate marquee was set up for the service.
It featured a huge backdrop with pictures of the late Zulu monarch and bouquets of flowers in front of rows of socially distanced leather chairs near the podium for VIP guests.
Among the speakers are traditional prime minister to the king Mangosuthu Buthelezi and KZN premier Sihle Zikalala.
Minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will officiate the service, while South African Anglican archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba will administer the Eucharist
Zwelithini was the longest-serving monarch in Zulu history, reigning for half a century through years of apartheid and the transition to multi-racial democracy.
He died early on Friday in the eastern city of Durban, aged 72, after weeks of treatment for a diabetes-related illness.
His remains were taken back to his birthplace, the small southeastern town of Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal province, where he will be laid to rest after midnight.
The king was laid to rest in a private funeral on Wednesday night, attended by only male members of the royal family, in accordance with his wishes.
The casket draped in leopard skin was placed within the compound of the KwaKhethomthandayo royal residence surrounded by tall trees.