The Queen will be represented by Prince Charles at the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, a Royal Central source says.
Westminster Abbey will be holding a service of thanksgiving for the life of Mr Mandela after his state funeral next Sunday. This will be the first service of thanksgiving of this size at the Abbey for a non-British citizen.
Over 140 heads of State and three American Presidents will attend Mr Mandela’s funeral. This includes US President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Hillary and Bill Clinton along side Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama who are expected to attend.
The Queen is believed to have telephoned Mr Mandela several times since he was taken seriously ill in June according to The People.
The monarch and Mr Mandela had very strong ties and met him during at state visit in 1991, and then again in 1996. The Nobel winner described The Queen as a “gracious lady” and she called him a “wonderful man”.
Buckingham Palace released a statement after Mr Mandela’s death on Thursday saying “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. 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”.
Her Majesty very rarely goes to oversea funerals and usually another member of the family represents her. The Duke of Edinburgh attended John F Kennedy’s funeral and Prince Charles went to the Pope John Paul II’s
Mr Mandela’s body will now lie in state on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Sunday has also been declared a day of national prayer and reflection.
Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town and long time friend of Mr Mandela is expected to hold the service, which will be in Qunu, South Africa.