Friday, 6 December 2013

William's tribute to Nelson Mandela

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were watching a royal premiere of the biopic Mandela: Long Road to Freedom when Nelson Mandela died, in South Africa, at the age of 95.  As the curtain fell on the film, its star, Idris Elba, took to the stage to tell those watching that the man whose life they had been celebrating that evening was now dead.  William and Kate stood to join the audience in a two minute silence in tribute to Nelson Mandela.

The Duke of Cambridge pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as news of his death broke while the royal couple were watching a biopic of the former president of South Africa

And as the couple left, this future king paid tribute to a king among men.  He spoke of Mandela's extraordinary life and said his thoughts were with him and his family.

Nelson Mandela who has died at the age of 95

WIlliam's mother, Diana, met Nelson Mandela in 1997 when they talked about future projects to tackle HIV but Diana died before any of these could come to pass.  Five years after her death, Nelson Mandela paid a private visit to her grave at her family home at Althorp and started talks on joint projects between his charities and her Memorial Fund.

Nelson Mandela with Diana, Princess of Wales in March 1997.  He later paid a private visit to her grave

And then in 2008, Prince Harry paid a visit to the cell on Robben Island where this powerhouse of a man was held in captivity for decades.  Harry was clearly moved by the conditions he saw which turned a freedom fighter into a global man of peace and an icon for love and humanity.

Prince Harry at Robben Island in 2008

The Queen will lead the Royal Family's official tributes to a man of whom she was said to be very fond and who called her 'my friend, Elizabeth'.  But at the moment of his passing, it fell to a future king to begin royal tributes.  William's words embodied the humanity and dignity that Nelson Mandela inspired in so many.

Queen Elizabeth II and Nelson Mandela in 2003 - one of several occasions on which they met

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