Nelson Mandela remembered at Westminster Abbey service

Published 03 March 2014
This photo dated 9 October 1993 shows Nelson Mandela acknowledging the crowd at a rally in Glasgow after he had earlier received the Freedom of the City.

Some 2,000 people came to Westminster Abbey on Monday for a service in remembrance of the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

Guests at the memorial service included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Prince Harry, David Cameron, and Idris Elba.  Members of Mandela's family were also in attendance. 

The service celebrated the life of Mandela, who led the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa and died on December 5 at the age of 95.

Friends of South Africa's first black president shared memories of his struggle with the congregation at Westminster Abbey. 

Dean of Westminster Abbey, Dr John Hall, recalled that a service of thanksgiving had been held at the abbey 20 years ago to celebrate the first democratic elections in the country.

"At that time, all who were here thanked God for the triumph of a spirit of reconciliation and for peaceful transition. 

"It is hard to imagine any of this would have been possible without the grace and generosity shown by Nelson Mandela."

Archbishop Tutu posed the question of what South Africa's fate might have been if Mandela had died in prison.

"I suppose most would have regarded him as no better than a terrorist. Persons in high positions in Britain and the US did dismiss him as such," he said.

"Mercifully for us and God's world, Mandela did not die in prison and this is largely down to the amazing international anti-apartheid movement led by that remarkable Englishman Archbishop Trevor Huddleston.

"I use this great pulpit to say on behalf of our people: thank you, thank you, thank you."

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