Prince Charles has arrived in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral, where he is expected to read out a personal tribute from the Queen.
The Prince of Wales, who is representing his mother at the burial on Sunday morning, will read out the note from the 87-year-old monarch who was “deeply saddened’ by the former South African president’s passing.
Charles, attending without the Duchess of Cornwall, joined dignities, royalty and celebrities from around the world as he flew into Mthatha airport near Qunu on Sunday morning ahead of the funeral.
In a statement released after his death, Charles honoured the former leader’s dedication and “zest for life”.
“Mr Mandela was the embodiment of courage and reconciliation,” the Prince of Wales said in a statement. “He was also a man of great humour and had a real zest for life. With his passing, there will be an immense void not only in his family’s lives, but also in those of all South Africans.
“The world has lost an inspired leader and a great man. My family and I are profoundly saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Earlier this week, The Queen revealed how she was shocked at the timing of Mandela’s death which coincided with the world premiere of a new film about his life.
Speaking on an official visit to the Houses of Parliament, Her Majesty explained her surprise as grandson Prince William and wife the Duchess of Cambridge were at the screening of ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’, in which his death was announced shortly after.
“It was extraordinary because William and Catherine were at a film last night, which was the film about his life,” she said. “The news came at the end.”
“They (William and Kate) were clapping like mad and somebody came on and said can you just listen please, we have heard he has died.
“It is amazing isn’t it. During the first night of his film.”
Her majesty’s comments come after it was revealed she was “deeply saddened” about the former South African’s passing on Thursday evening.
In a statement released shortly after Mandela’s death, the Queen recalled the “great warmth” of her meetings with Mr Mandela, of who called Elizabeth a “dear friend”.
“The Queen was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Mandela last night. He worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today,” the statement read.
“Her Majesty remembers with great warmth her meetings with Mr Mandela and sends her sincere condolences to his family and the people of South Africa at this very sad time.”