The two youngest daughters of Nelson Mandela were told of their father’s death at Thursday’s London premiere of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” a film celebrating the life of the iconic anti-apartheid fighter. However, Zindzi and Zenani insisted that the screening continue.
The two had just met Britain’s Prince William and wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, when they were informed of the news by telephone and, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, “immediately left the cinema.”
Zindzi, 55, had spoken of her father on her way into the cinema, saying that he was “fine” but “frail” and added that she was “hoping to see more of him.” Soon after entering the cinema, British news reports that she “seemed to be overcome.”
After a two-minute silence following the film, Prince William gave an unscripted response, not typical of a major royal at a news event. “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 shocked audience was told of Mandela’s death as the credits rolled, according to Yahoo News.
The actor who played Mandela in the flim, Idris Elba, said in a statement: “I am stunned at this very moment, in mourning with the rest of the world and Madiba’s family. We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this earth; I only feel honored to be associated with him.”
Earlier that evening on the red carpet, the British actor had said that he hoped Mandela lived long enough to see the film. “I think he has seen parts of the film but ultimately it’s about his life, he’s been there, he’s done it — so he might not even need to see it.”
The film was made by the Weinstein Company. Harvey Weinstein, head of the studio, said, “We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy. It’s been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history’s greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice.”
Zindzi and Zenani were only toddlers when their father began his prison sentence at South Africa’s Robben Island in 1964.
image via: YouTube