The Duke and Duchess of Camridge greeted Nelson Mandela's family this evening - oblivious to the fact the former South African president had died only hours earlier.

The royal pair attended the star-studded UK premiere of the biographical film of his life unaware of the tragic news.

duchess of cambridge

Kate meets Zindzi Mandela the daughter of former South African President, Nelson Mandela

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Mandela's daughter, Zindzi, was representing the family at the film premiere and was told her father's health was failing just minutes before it was due to start.

Before the performance, she praised the film for honouring her father, but was reportedly spotted looking tearful as the film was set to begin.

"It's something that makes me feel really proud that what my family went through and the role my father played has been recognised," she said.

"When we document our history in this manner we do it not just for ourselves but for future generations, the young people that my father is really passionate about," she told the Daily Mail.

duke of cambridge

The film, telling the life story of the anti-Apartheid activist and international icon, was made with his support.

It spans Mr Mandela's extraordinary life, from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement of the former South African president's death this evening, saying: "He is now at peace".

In a televised address, Zuma said: "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.

"What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."

Zuma finished his address by saying simply: "We will always love you Madiba. May your soul rest in peace. God bless Africa."

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  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge necklace as she arrives for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge talks to Naomie Harris as she arrives for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge's handbag arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 5, 2013. Photo credit should read: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 5, 2013. Photo credit should read: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    ALTERNATIVE CROP The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 5, 2013. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 5, 2013. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 5, 2013. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Idris Elba, left, who plays Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris who plays Winnie Mandela laugh as they pose for photographers at the UK premiere of the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at a cinema in London, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Idris Elba, left, who plays Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris who plays Winnie Mandela pose for photographers at the UK premiere of the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at a cinema in London, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Britain's Kate the Duchess of Cambridge and her husband Prince William arrive to attend the UK premiere of the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at a cinema in London, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Idris Elba and Naomie Harris arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Tony Kgoroge (left), Naomie Harris (second left), Zindzi Mandela (centre) and Idris Elba (right) arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Idris Elba arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Britain's Kate the Duchess of Cambridge and her husband Prince William arrive to attend the UK premiere of the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at a cinema in London, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Idris Elba and Naomie Harris

    British actors Idris Elba and Naomie Harris pose for photographers as they arrive on the red carpet for the UK Premiere of 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on Thursday Dec. 5, 2013. (Photo by Jon Furniss/Invision/AP Images)

  • Britain's Kate the Duchess of Cambridge and her husband Prince William arrive to attend the UK premiere of the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at a cinema in London, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Britain's Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and her husband Prince William arrive to attend the UK premiere of the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at a cinema in London, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Idris Elba, left, who plays Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris who plays Winnie Mandela pose for photographers at the UK premiere of the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at a cinema in London, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Idris Elba and Naomie Harris arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    ALTERNATIVE CROP.Idris Elba and Naomie Harris (right) arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 5, 2013. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Harvey Weinstein arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Emma McQuiston arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Shingai Shoniwa arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Idris Elba and Naomie Harris (right) arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Jamelia and her daughters Teja and Tiani (right) arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Clara Amfo arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Clara Amfo arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Richard E. Grant arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Tony Kgoroge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Tony Kgoroge arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Clara Amfo arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Producer Anant Singh, wife Vanashree and children arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Richard E. Grant arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Zindzi Mandela arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Jermain Defoe (centre) with mother Sandra (left) and sister (right) arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Idris Elba arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Premiere - London

    Emma McQuiston arriving for the Royal Film Performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.