05/12/2013 18:37 GMT | Updated 04/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Idris Elba's 'Honour Of Stepping Into Nelson Mandela's Shoes', Film Royal Premiere As Former President Dies In South Africa

Idris Elba has spoken of the "honour" of playing Nelson Mandela on screen, as the news of the South African statesman's death was broken to a stunned audience at the film's Royal Premiere in London.

Idris Elba has released this statement:

What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Elba had previously spoken of the great challenge of bringing Mandela's story to life on screen - an epic tale that encompasses his extraordinary journey from young activist, lawyer, prisoner, to president and finally revered statesman.

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris appeared on the red carpet earlier in the evening in at the royal premiere

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the evening's event in Leicester Square, where they met Mr Mandela's daughter Zindzi just before the film. She was later seen appearing distressed, as the news came through of her father's death in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela's daughter Zindzi (right) met the Duke of Cambridge shortly before the film began

The Duke stopped to make a tribute before leaving the cinema with the Duchess.

Prince William said, "It's extremely sad and tragic news. We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now."

The sad news was given to the audience after the credits rolled, when two minutes silence followed in honour of the man whose story they had just seen brought to the big screen.