Tutu to attend funeral after 'snub'

Maldon and Burnham Standard: The Prince of Wales is due to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela The Prince of Wales is due to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela

Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu will join scores of dignitaries from around the world tomorrow for the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

Some 4,000 people have been invited to attend the funeral of the anti-apartheid hero including family members, African leaders and several heads of states.

Mr Tutu earlier said he was not invited to attend. But on social media tonight, his Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation posted: "Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will be travelling to Qunu early tomorrow to attend Tata's funeral."

The Prince of Wales will also attend and is expected to arrive with the British High Commissioner Judith Macgregor in Qunu, the remote village where the South African president grew up, for the service on Sunday morning.

Prominent US civil rights activist Reverend Jessie Jackson is also thought to be attending.

The Prince is representing the Queen after Buckingham Palace confirmed that the 87-year-old would not make the journey to South Africa for the ceremonies to mark Mr Mandela's death.

After the former statesman's death last week, Charles described Mr Mandela as the "embodiment of courage and reconciliation" and said his passing had left "an immense void" in the lives of everyone who had been affected by his fight for justice and freedom.

The South African and Union flags will be flown at half-mast above 10 Downing Street tomorrow to mark the ceremony.

Mr Mandela's body arrived in Qunu in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa today as large numbers of people lined the roads to pay their respects as the cortege passed by.

His coffin, draped in the country's national flag, had earlier been carried from a farewell service in Pretoria and onto a military plane, escorted by two fighter jets.

Preparations for Mr Mandela's funeral were earlier marred by a public spat between the South African government and Mr Tutu, one of the most prominent survivors in the long anti-apartheid struggle.

Mr Tutu, a Nobel laureate who has strongly criticised the current government, said in a statement that he would not be attending Mr Mandela's funeral, even though he wishes to pay respects to his long-time friend.

He said he was not invited - an apparent snub that the South African government vehemently denies.

"Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would have been disrespectful to Tata (Mandela) to gatecrash what was billed as a private family funeral," Mr Tutu said in the statement.

"Had I or my office been informed that I would be welcome there is no way on earth that I would have missed it."

Mr Tutu, 82, said he had cancelled his plans to fly to the Eastern Cape to attend the funeral after receiving no indication that his name was on the guest list or accreditation list.

However, Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for the South African presidency, said Mr Tutu was on the guest list and that he hoped a solution would be found allowing him to attend.

At least 100,000 people saw Mr Mandela's body lying in state in Pretoria over the last three days, but some had to be turned away.

The 95-year-old former leader, who was imprisoned for 27 years for opposing racist apartheid before emerging in 1990 to forge a new democratic South Africa, died on December 5.

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