Royalty and statesmen

The former South African president was clearly feeling at ease during Tuesday's meeting with Mr Brown and his wife Sarah, having shrugged off his shoes he conducted the visit in stockinged feet
Photo: PA
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Presented with a birthday card from the prime minister's two young sons, the statesman - who'll mark his 90th birthday on July 18 - was clearly delighted
Photo: PA

Nelson Mandela takes relaxed approach to chat with PM and wife

25 JUNE 2008
In the UK for a week of celebrations ahead of his 90th birthday next month, retired elder statesman Nelson Mandela was as at ease as ever when he welcomed Prime Minister Gordon Brown to his hotel suite on Tuesday. Indeed, the former South African president was so at home with the premier and his wife Sarah he'd removed his shoes, and received the couple in stockinged feet.

During their visit the couple presented Mr Mandela with a birthday card from their sons, four-year-old John and Fraser, one, which the the former leader was visibly delighted with.

On Wednesday the 89-year-old is hosting a charity dinner for 500 guests, including rock icon Elton John, who'll serenade him with a rendition of Happy Birthday, former US President Bill Clinton, TV host Oprah Winfrey and funnyman Will Smith. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is preparing a banquet for the event, which will double up as an auction expected to raise 1 million for Mr Mandela's Aids charity.

At the end of the week he'll be guest of honour at a huge benefit concert in Hyde Park to mark his milestone birthday. Friday's gig will feature performances by Bleeding Love chanteuse Leona Lewis and rock legends Queen. Troubled jazz sensation Amy Winehouse is also on the lineup of acts invited to participate.