Parliament to stage Mandela tribute

Politicians in Westminster will celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela today as a music-filled service to remember the anti-apartheid hero is held in Parliament.

Peers, MPs and invited guests will take part in the commemorative service being staged in Westminster Hall to mark the death of South Africa's first black president last Thursday at the age of 95.

Singer Joan Armatrading, who met Mr Mandela a number of times, will perform The Messenger, a tribute which she sang for him in 2001, sparking the former leader to rise to his feet to dance.

Former Coronation Street actor Pamela Nomvete will read extracts from 491 Days by Mr Mandela's former wife Winnie, and poet Dean Atta will also give a reading.

Foreign Secretary William Hague, Labour leader Ed Miliband and former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd are among the political figures who will pay their tributes to the figurehead of the anti-apartheid movement.

The event, which starts at 2pm, is expected to last about 90 minutes and is being hosted by Commons Speaker John Bercow and Lords Speaker Baroness D'Souza.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge formally paid their respects to Mr Mandela yesterday by signing his book of condolence.

William and Kate travelled to South Africa House in central London to honour the former South African president.

The Cambridges were watching the UK and European premiere of the film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom at the Odeon Leicester Square in London when news of the statesman's death broke.

The Princess Royal and the Duke of Gloucester have already signed the book of condolence, as have Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr Milliband.

The Prince of Wales will formally represent the Queen at Mr Mandela's funeral in Qunu, South Africa, on Sunday.

World leaders and thousands of South Africans have filed past Mr Mandela's flag-draped coffin as he lies in state in the amphitheatre where he was sworn in 19 years earlier as the country's first black president.

Members of his family and world leaders viewed the body first through a glass bubble atop the coffin at Union Buildings, the government offices in Pretoria.

The coffin will be on display in South Africa's main seat of power for another two days with queues to pay respects at some stages as long as 1.8 miles (3km).

On Saturday, Mr Mandela's body will be flown to Qunu, his home in Eastern Cape Province, ahead of his funeral on Sunday.

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