THE Prince of Wales will join scores of dignitaries from around the world on Sunday 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.
Charles is expected to arrive with the British High Commissioner Judith Macgregor in Qunu, the remote village where the former South African president grew up, on Sunday morning.
Prominent US civil rights activist Reverend Jessie Jackson is also thought to be attending the service.
The Prince is representing the Queen after Buckingham Palace confirmed that the 87-year-old monarch 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.
Mandela body flown to Cape
Mr Mandela’s body was today being flown to South Africa’s Eastern Cape ahead of his funeral service
His coffin, draped in the country’s national flag, was carried from a farewell service in Pretoria and onto a military plane, escorted by two fighter jets.
It is expected to arrive in Mthatha this afternoon before a final journey to the village of Qunu, Mr Mandela’s childhood home, where the anti-apartheid icon will be given a state funeral.
It comes amid speculation that Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop, will miss his close friend’s burial service, with some reports claiming he was not invited for political reasons.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is a long-time friend of Mr Mandela and occasional critic of the current government.
A spokesman for Mr Tutu refused to elaborate and said the retired archbishop himself would not be commenting.
However, a spokesman for President Jacob Zuma told media in South Africa that Mr Tutu is “definitely on the invite list”.
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 died on December 5.