More than any other politician of ages past or present, Nelson Mandela was able to call the biggest celebrities in the world his friends. On Tuesday, a roll call of famous faces, led by Charlize Theron, Naomi Campbell and Bono paid their respects to a man whose star appeal far outshone their own.
Also joining the tens of thousands in the rainlashed Soweto stadium at his memorial service was Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Norway’s Prince Haakon, Queen Rania of Jordan and Prince Felipe of Spain.
The biggest cheer of the day came when Barack and Michelle Obama were introduced. The US President flew in on Air Force One with with George W Bush and his wife Laura, as well as Hillary Clinton.
At the service in the 95,000-strong stadium, where there is a party-like atmosphere punctuated by the sound of vuvezulas, Britain is represented by David Cameron, Gordon Brown, John Major and Tony Blair. From France have come François Hollande, the current leader, and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.
In the congregation is Raul Castro from Cuba which was a staunch critic of apartheid under his brother Fidel.
One of the biggest cheers was for his widow Graça Machel, leading the huge Mandela family, which includes his three daughters, Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindzi, 20 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Also in the congregation was his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who spent years campaigning for his release.
The stadium has great resonance for the story of the anti-apartheid icon. It was here he spoke for the first time on being released from prison after 27 years in February 1990 and here that the late leader made his last public appearance at the 2010 World Cup.