Prince William has paid tribute to ''extraordinary and inspiring man'' Nelson Mandela.

The Prince and his wife, Duchess Catherine attended the Royal Premiere of 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' - a film about the South African political figure's life - in London this evening, and were informed of his passing as the credits began to roll.

Speaking about Mandela - who died at home in Johannesburg, South Africa, aged 95 - after the screening, William said: ''I just wanted to say it's extremely sad and tragic news.

''We were just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. It's very sad.''

The Prince and the Duchess looked visibly upset as they left the cinema. Mandela's family were represented by his daughter, Zindzi, at the screening, and it is thought she was told of her father's passing just before the movie started.

Earlier in the evening, she had told MailOnline of her pride in the film, saying: ''It's something that makes me feel really proud, what my family went through and the role my father played has been recognised. It is a reward [for him].''

Mandela was a friend of Prince William and his brother Harry's mother, Princess Diana, whom he met during her visit to Cape Town in South Africa in 1997, only months before she died. In 2002 Mandela paid his respects by laying a wreath on her grave in Northamptonshire, middle England.