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Prince William, 'Long Walk to Freedom' Actors Learn of Nelson Mandela's Death at Screening

Mandela: Long walk to Freedom Horizontal - H 2013
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The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, Kate Middleton and Prince William, at the London Screening

"We were just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," Prince William said after the London event at The Odeon Leicester Square.

LONDON -- The news of South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela's death came as many of the actors, filmmakers and others -- including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton -- attended a London screening of Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. The news was shared with the moviegoers after the credits rolled.

The movie, selected to be this year's Royal Film Performance, was unspooling at the annual gala event at The Odeon Leicester Square for what is the principal fundraising event of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF), the trade charity for the U.K. film and television industries.

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The movie's director Chadwick, alongside Idris Elba -- who plays the South African hero in the film -- and Naomie Harris, strolled the red carpet before the event, where Mandela's daughters Zindzi and Zenani were in attendance.

The royal couple were informed of Mandela's passing before they left the auditorium in the cavernous Leicester Square theater.

Lights were brought up shortly after the film ended, and producer Anant Singh told the audience the sad news from the stage at the front of theater, accompanied by Chadwick, Elba and producer David Thompson.

After Singh's short announcement, they asked for a minute of silence from the audience.


Prince William said in the foyer after the screening: "I just wanted to say it's extremely sad and tragic news. We were just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. It's very sad."

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The daughters had not been scheduled to stay for the film after walking the red carpet so neither was there after the news of their father's death was relayed to the audience.

Prior to the screening, Chadwick introduced the film with South African producer Singh, writer William Nicholson, Elba and Harris onstage after the Royal address was delivered by Richard E. Grant.

The Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, the charity for which the Royal Performance is primarily staged, tweeted that producers Harvey Weinstein and Singh both were introduced to the Duke and Duchess before the screening, as is standard practice, along with Chadwick, Nicholson, Elba and Harris in a line up before the screening.

The CTBF has posted nothing about the news of Mandela's death filtering through to the event that was also supporting the former South African president's children's charity.

In the U.K., Pathe is distributing the film, which is scheduled to rollout there on Jan. 3, 2014. The Weinstein Co. has already begun its platform release of the film in the U.S.