Mandela’s daughters in attendance.
Yesterday brought sad news that former South African president Nelson Mandela had died, aged 95. But in an extraordinary piece of timing, his death was announced during the premiere of a film about him.
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom was receiving its world premiere in London’s West End when the news broke. Two of Mandela’s youngest daughters were in attendance as guests of honour.
They were informed of their father’s death mid-film. Stopping the screening was discussed, but the daughters decided that it should continue as planned.
The Leicester square audience, which included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were informed of the death once the credits rolled, and there were reports of shocked screams and weeping.
Anant Singh, the film’s producer, held a minute’s silence.
Speaking on the red carpet prior to the screening, Zindzi Mandela said when asked about her father's health: "My father is fine. He's just a typical 95-year-old who is frail."
Prince William added to the chorus of tributes after the screening. "It was extremely sad and tragic news," he said. "We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now."
The new biopic, the first attempt to bring a comprehensive account of Mandela’s life to the screen, stars British actor Idris Elba as the legendary statesman and freedom fighter, and Naomie Harris as his wife Winnie.
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is released in the UK on January 3rd 2014.