Nelson Mandela death: Queen leads tributes

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Media captionThe Queen talked about Mandela film premier 'coincidence'

The Queen has led the UK in sending her "sincere condolences" to the family of Nelson Mandela and to the people of South Africa.

The monarch said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of his death.

A vigil was attended by hundreds outside Trafalgar Square's South Africa House, after David Cameron earlier visited to offer his condolences.

Meanwhile, books of condolence have been opened across the country, and flags are flying at half-mast.

The Queen said the former South African president "worked tirelessly" for the good of his country, adding that his legacy is "the peaceful South Africa we see today".

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: "Her Majesty remembers with great warmth her meetings with Mr Mandela".

'Sense of forgiveness'

Writing in a book of condolence at South Africa House, the prime minister said of Mr Mandela: "Your cause of fighting for freedom and against discrimination, your struggle for justice, your triumph against adversity - these things will inspire generations to come.

"And through all of this, your generosity, compassion and profound sense of forgiveness have given us all lessons to learn and live by."

He ended his message with a quote from Matthew 5:9 in the Bible: "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God".

The central London site was once the scene of freedom vigils for Mr Mandela, who led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s after serving 27 years in prison for his political activities.

Members of the public queued to sign the book as flowers, candles and other tributes gathered outside the South African High Commission.

One tribute on a card read: "Thank you for the sacrifices you made for all of us."

Another read: "May God shine light on your homecoming in heaven. Rest in Peace Mr Mandela."

A book of condolence has opened for members of the public to sign at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey. Further books will open at Coventry Cathedral, the city of peace and reconciliation, and at Leeds Civic Hall, after Mr Mandela was made a Freeman of Leeds in 2001.

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Media captionThe BBC's Razia Iqbal finds out what Nelson Mandela means to a new generation of British children

St Paul's Cathedral is to hold an evensong service in memory of Mr Mandela at 17:00 GMT on Thursday.

Westminster service

A national service of thanksgiving for the life of Mr Mandela is to be held at Westminster Abbey in the new year. The state funeral in South Africa is due to take place on Sunday, 15 December.

The Foreign Office said it has requested that all UK national flags across the country be flown at half-mast until 20:00 GMT on Thursday. It also appealed for any foreign flags usually flown on the same stand as the Union Flag to be removed.

Image caption The Queen remembers "with great warmth" her meetings with Mr Mandela
Image caption MPs are to hold a "major event" at Westminster Hall in honour of Mr Mandela
Image caption Tributes have been laid outside South Africa House in Trafalgar Square
Image caption It was once the scene of freedom vigils for Mr Mandela, whose politics saw him imprisoned for 27 years

Mr Mandela made his first state visit to the UK in 1996, two years after he became South Africa's first black president.

The Prince of Wales said Mr Mandela was the "embodiment of courage and reconciliation".

The prince added: "He was also a man of great humour and had a real zest for life.

"With his passing, there will be an immense void not only in his family's lives, but also in those of all South Africans and the many others whose lives have been changed through his fight for peace, justice and freedom.

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Media captionPrince Charles: "I have nothing but the happiest and fondest memories of him"

"The world has lost an inspired leader and a great man. My family and I are profoundly saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with his family. "On Thursday night, Prince William said the death of Mandela was "extremely sad and tragic".

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were attending the premiere of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a film about the former South African president, when news of Mr Mandela's death broke.

Speaking after the film, Prince William 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 Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, was among others in the UK to pay tribute to Mr Mandela.

He said: "South Africa has lost its greatest citizen and its father. Nelson Mandela, fighting to the end, is freed to be with his God in joy and reward for his great service and sacrifice."

'Power of love'

Among others in the UK to pay tribute to Mr Mandela:

Mr Mandela, 95, had been receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital.

His death was announced on South African national TV by the country's president Jacob Zuma.