AP Photo/Chris Jackson, Pool
News of Nelson Mandela's death yesterday broke during the London premiere of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," Justin Chadwick's biopic about the late South African president and anti-apartheid activist. Audience members learned of Mandela's passing at the age of 95 during and immediately following the screening of the film.
Per a statement from the Nelson Mandela Foundation (via Canada's National Post), two of those audience members were Zenani and Zindzi Mandela, Mandela's youngest daughters (pictured above with Prince William), who "immediately left the cinema," but reportedly only after requesting that the film continue playing.
While on the red carpet before the screening, Zindzi commented on her father's health. "He's 95 years old and he is pretty frail. We are hoping to see more of him," she told reporters, per UK's The Guardian.
Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were also in attendance. Before leaving the event, a somber William praised the departed leader. "It is extremely sad and tragic news. We were just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now."
British actors Idris Elba, who plays Mandela in the biopic, and Naomie Harris, who stars opposite him as Winnie Mandela, were there as well. Elba issued a brief yet touching statement after hearing the news: "What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" opened in limited release on November 29, and is scheduled for wide release on Christmas Day.
[via National Post, The Guardian]