Nelson Mandela funeral: in pictures

By Ian Jones, MSN UK news editor. Image: Reuters, Newscom, RTR
1 of 21 To full screen

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, has been buried at his ancestral home.

He was laid to rest in Qunu, in the east of the country, following a state funeral service attended by around 4,500 people.

Mr Mandela's burial was a private ceremony, with only a few hundred family, friends and dignitaries present at the graveside.

This picture shows his coffin surrounded by a military guard of honour, shortly before the burial took place.

Click or swipe through for more images

AP Photo/Peter Dejong
2 of 21 To full screen

During the burial ceremony, three helicopters flew over the site, each carrying the flag of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, and South African president Jacob Zuma were present for the private, traditional Xhosa burial.

As the coffin was lowered into the grave, the Last Post was sounded and cannons fired a 21-gun salute.

3 of 21 To full screen

Military personnel carried the coffin of Nelson Mandela on the last leg of his final journey towards the graveside.

The burial marked the end of a 10-day period of mourning and commemoration, following Mr Mandela's death on 5 December.

Image: AP Photo/Odd Andersen
4 of 21 To full screen

Before the burial, a state funeral service took place in a specially-erected marquee.

Around 4,500 people attended the event, including foreign heads of state, political leaders and many of Nelson Mandela's former colleagues and friends. South African president Jacob Zuma sat between Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, left, Nelson Mandela's former wife, and Nelson Mandela’s widow Graca Machel during the service.

AP Photo/Odd Andersen
5 of 21 To full screen

Inside the marquee, Nelson Mandela's portrait was placed behind 95 candles, representing one for each year of the late president's life.

During the night before the service, members of Mr Mandela's family attended a vigil. A traditional praise singer was present, who is thought to have chanted details of the former president's long journey and life.

REUTERS/Odd Andersen
6 of 21 To full screen

Ahmed Kathrada, close friend of Nelson Mandela, spoke movingly during the funeral ceremony.

"Your abundant reserves of love, simplicity, honesty, service, humility, care, courage, foresight, patience, tolerance, equality, justice continually serve as a source of enormous strength to many millions of people in South Africa and the world," he said. "Today mingled with our grief is the enormous pride that one of our own has, during his lifetime and now in your death, united the people of South Africa and the entire world on a scale never before experienced in history."

AP Photo/Odd Andersen
7 of 21 To full screen

South African president Jacob Zuma also spoke during the service.

"It is the end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago," he said. "It is the end of 95 glorious years, of a freedom fighter, a dedicated and humble servant of the people of South Africa. Fountain of wisdom, a pillar of strength, and a beacon of hope for all those fighting for a just and equitable world order. Your long walk to freedom has ended in a physical sense. Our own journey continues. We have to continue working to build the kind of society you worked tirelessly to construct. South Africa will continue to rise."

AP Photo/Odd Andersen
8 of 21 To full screen

Prince Charles attended the funeral service on behalf of the Queen.

Other guests included senior South African officials, veterans of the fight against white rule, numerous foreign diplomats, and selected politicians including former Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
9 of 21 To full screen

The service was broadcast on television across South Africa.

In this picture, a family in the Soweto township of Johannesburg are seen watching one of the funeral speeches.

AP Photo/Elmond Jiyane, GCIS
10 of 21 To full screen

The view inside the tent in which the funeral service took place.

After the national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel'I Africa (God Bless Africa) was sung, the service heard from a family spokesman, Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, who thanked the army medical team that had treated Mr Mandela before he died.. "A great tree has fallen, he is now going home to rest with his forefathers. We thank them for lending us such an icon."

AP Photo/Odd Andersen
11 of 21 To full screen

The business entrepreneur Richard Branson, right and television host Oprah Winfrey were among the few celebrities to attend the funeral service.

REUTERS/Odd Andersen
12 of 21 To full screen

South Africa's president Jacob Zuma, centre, Winnie Mandela, left, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, and Graca Machel , right, widow of Mandela, react during the funeral service

AP Photo/Elmond Jiyane, GCIS
13 of 21 To full screen

Earlier on Sunday, the casket of Nelson Mandela was brought in a military parade on a gun carriage from the family home to the funeral tent in Qunu.

South African honour guards from the army, navy and air force marched in formation. Mr Mandela's casket was covered by a national flag.

AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam
14 of 21 To full screen

The service took place inside a giant white marquee that had been specially erected in Qunu.

After the funeral ceremony, a smaller group of guests is expected to attend the burial at a family grave site on the Mandela family estate nearby.

Image: AP Photo/Peter Dejong
15 of 21 To full screen

Nelson Mandela's coffin arrived in his ancestral home in Qunu on Saturday.

In keeping with tribal custom, Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla accompanied him on the journey, speaking to his coffin to tell his grandfather he was on his way home to rest.

Large numbers of people lined the roads of the rural region of the country to pay their respects as the cortege passed by.

AP Photo/Ben Curtis
16 of 21 To full screen

A motorcade transported the body of Nelson Mandela, in a black hearse, through crowds of mourners gathered in the town of Mthatha on the way to Qunu.

"He is finally coming home to rest, I can't even begin to describe the feeling I have inside," 31-year-old Bongani Zibi told the AFP news agency. "Part of me is sad but I'm also happy that he has found peace."

AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen
17 of 21 To full screen

People waving flags, cheering and singing - in places 10 to 12 deep - lined the route taken by the cortege.

The motorcade completed its journey by driving through the gates of the Mandela homestead in Qunu.

AP Photo/Elmond Jiyane, GCIS
18 of 21 To full screen

Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla, pictured here centre, led local chiefs as they escorted the lion-skin draped casket of Nelson Mandela inside the family residence in Qunu.

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
19 of 21 To full screen

Nelson Mandela's casket was flown from Pretoria where it had been lying in state for three days.

In this picture, people wave at the aircraft carrying the casket as it takes off from Waterkloof Air Base on the outskirts of Pretoria.

AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
20 of 21 To full screen

The casket was carried to a military aircraft following a farewell ceremony by the African National Congress at Waterkloof Air Base on the outskirts of Pretoria.

President Jacob Zuma, other ANC leaders and more than 1,000 members of the organisation which Mr Mandela once led, attended the event, which included a multi-faith service and a musical tribute.

AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
21 of 21 To full screen

Mourners at the ceremony wore badges and emblems bearing images of Nelson Mandela.

President Zuma paid his own tribute to Nelson Mandela during the ceremony, calling him a "towering figure", "a man of action" and a "democrat who understood the world."

He added: "Yes, we will miss him... He was our father, he was our guardian. He was something special. We'll always keep you in our hearts."