Queen to miss Nelson Mandela funeral over security and long-haul flight concerns

Prince Charles will go in her place, and be joined by Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour's Ed Miliband in paying respects to 'hero across countries, continents and parties'

The Queen will not attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral, set to be one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in modern times, it has been reported.

At 87 years old, the British monarch has been advised to avoid long-haul flights where possible, and a Buckingham Palace spokesperson has now confirmed that Prince Charles will travel to South Africa in her place.

The world’s leaders are about to descend on Johannesburg for an official memorial service this Tuesday. It will be held in the 95,000-capacity Soccer City stadium, and has been arranged to alleviate logistical pressures on the tiny village of Qunu, which will host Mr Mandela’s state funeral next Sunday.

Travel and security concerns mean the Queen will not be able to attend either event, according to reports in The Sunday People. The Guardian reported that Prince William could also go to pass on her condolences alongside the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

An official statement issued by the Palace two days ago, and signed Elizabeth R, read: “The Queen was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Mandela last night. He worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today.

“Her Majesty remembers with great warmth her meetings with Mr Mandela and sends her sincere condolences to his family and the people of South Africa at this very sad time.”

The funeral proceedings this week will be attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband, who wrote in the Observer today that Mr Mandela “is now a hero across countries, continents and parties”.

Among other world leaders to confirm that they will be flying out to South Africa this week are US President Barack Obama and his two predecessors, George W Bush and Bill Clinton.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will also attend, and is expected to be joined by prominent figures from Iran, Israel, China, Cuba and the Palestinian territories.

Instead of going to the official services, the Queen will honour the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former president with a service at Westminster Abbey, believed to be the first of its kind for a non-British citizen.

Abbey spokesman Duncan Jeffery told the Mirror last night: “There will be a thanksgiving service which we are looking to hold in the New Year.”

Today was declared a national day of prayer by South African President Jacob Zuma. After the memorial service on Tuesday, Mr Mandela’s body will lie in state in Pretoria for three days.

His remains will finally be taken to his birthplace Qunu, for a state funeral on 15 December.

Speaking of the challenges faced in organising the various services, thought to rival the funerals of Pope John Paul II and Winston Churchill in modern times, a senior foreign diplomat told the Guardian: “He is the hero of the planet.

”It’s going to be the biggest state funeral since Winston Churchill, and I think any country would struggle to organise that.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine