Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The duke and duchess of Cambridge attended Thursday night's London premiere of Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom, with stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, only learning of the civil rights hero's death as the credits rolled.
We were delivered the news as the credits rolled. Silence here in the cinema where the royal couple have just watched Mandela. RIP— Katie Nicholl (@katienicholl) December 5, 2013
"It's extremely sad and tragic news, we're just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was," Prince William told reporters in the halls of the Odeon theater. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him, and with his family right now."
British actor Idris Elba, who plays Mandela in the film, released this statement:
What an honor 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.
He also told reporters outside the premiere that he was "stunned at this very moment, in mourning with the rest of the world and Madiba's family."
Producer Harry Weinstein also offered his condolences.
One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalize those who have made a profound impact on humanity. We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela's story and legacy. It's been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history's greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice. I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism. We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation.