27 February 2014
A national “thanksgiving” service to celebrate the life and work of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away in December, will be held at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday.
The 1 000-year-old abbey has been England’s coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of 17 British monarchs.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will give an address at the service, which will be attended by Prince Harry, representing Queen Elizabeth II, the abbey said in a statement on Tuesday.
Also in attendance will UK Prime Minister David Cameron, UK opposition leader Ed Miliband, and members of the Mandela family.
Business Day reported on Thursday that South African President Jacob Zuma would not be attending the service due to work commitments, but that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe would be there at the head of a government delegation including at least two Cabinet ministers.
Prince Harry’s attendance at Monday’s service will be a further sign of the deep respect for Mandela felt by the British royal family. Harry’s father, Prince Charles, had represented the Queen at Mandela’s funeral in Qunu.
Both he and the Queen paid warm tribute to Mandela in statements issued following his death, Prince Charles describing him as an “embodiment of courage and reconciliation,” and the Queen praising Mandela’s achievements, saying he had “worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today”.