Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures

After almost 27 years in jail, Nelson Mandela walks free from Victor Verster prison near Cape Town on 11 February 1990. Photo: Reuters

Nelson Mandela was one of the most recognisable and well-known men on Earth.

Pictured here in his first televised interview, the young activist Nelson Mandela told an ITN reporter he feared it was "useless and futile" to continue a campaign of non-violent protest.

He was speaking soon after the massacre of 69 unarmed black protesters in Sharpville in 1961.

Nelson Mandela pictured in his first televised interview in 1961. Credit: ITN

Nelson Mandela visited London for the first time in 1962. It would be more than 30 years until he returned.

Nelson Mandela visits London in 1962. Credit: PA Wire

This was the world's first glimpse of Mandela after his long-awaited release from prison.

He took the last steps of his long walk to freedom hand-in-hand with his wife Winnie.

After almost 27 years in jail, Nelson Mandela walks free from Victor Verster prison near Cape Town on 11 February 1990. Credit: Reuters

In 1995, President Mandela presented the Rugby World Cup trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar after New Zealand's dramatic defeat in extra time.

The roar from the largely white South African crowd showed the strength of his popularity just five years since his release from prison.

Nelson Mandela hands over the trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar after his team won the Rugby World Cup final in 1995. Credit: Reuters

Mandela's state visit to the UK in 1996 was in many ways more like a coronation. As the official guest of the Queen, he travelled along the Mall in an open carriage.

He was also bestowed eight honorary degrees and was the star of a concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

Nelson Mandela and the Queen ride in a carriage along the Mall on the first full day of his state visit to Britain in 1996. Credit: PA Wire

Among the millions of people to visit Robben Island and view Mandela's former cell was Bill Clinton in 1998

Mandela himself showed the US president around the tiny room that was his home for 17 years.

Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela peer through the bars of the cell in which Mandela spent 17 years while incarcerated on Robben Island. Credit: Reuters

Mandela hosted the Spice Girls at the presidential residence in Pretoria at the height of their fame.

During a photocall, 'Ginger Spice' Geri Halliwell famously joked that the 79-year-old leader was only "as young as the girl you feel".

Perhaps recognising a kindred spirit, Mandela replied that he would "take you up on that".

Nelson Mandela, is flanked by Spice Girls Mel B (L) and Geri, during a photocall with the Spice Girls. Credit: PA Wire

During a visit to the Vatican in 1998, Mandela thanked Pope John Paul II for the Catholic Church's help in educating and caring for black South Africans at a time when the government treated them as second-class citizens.

Nelson Mandela leads Pope John Paul II for talks as they met at the Vatican 18 June 1998. Credit: Reuters

Among the many celebrities to have visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg was footballer David Beckham in 2003.

Then captain of the England side, Beckham dropped in before his team's friendly match against South Africa in Durban.

Nelson Mandela chats with David Beckham at Nelson Mandela's Foundation office in Johannesburg in May 21,2003. Credit: Reuters

Thousands of South Africans marked the 20th anniversary of their first black leader's release from prison by chanting "Viva, Nelson Mandela, Viva".

Mandela observed the occasion from the gallery at the opening of parliament in Cape Town on 11 February 2010.

Nelson Mandela gestures from the gallery at the opening of parliament in Cape Town February 11, 2010. Credit: Reuters

South Africa's hosting of the 2010 World Cup - the first African country to do so - was a moment of national pride.

Nelson Mandela was there to close the tournament at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

Nelson Mandela waves to the crowd at Soccer City stadium during the closing ceremony for the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg. Credit: Reuters

US First Lady Michelle Obama was one of the few people to have received an audience with Mandela in recent years.

Her visit to the former president's homestead in rural South Africa in 2011 resulted in this memorable image.

US First Lady Michelle Obama with Nelson Mandela at his home in Johannesburg, 21 June 2011. Credit: Handout

Nelson Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday last July at his family home in Qunu in rural Eastern Cape.South Africans celebrated the occasion with giant cakes, mass renditions of 'Happy Birthday' and 67 minutes of good deeds - one for each year of Mandela's struggle against white-minority rule.

elson Mandela looks on as he celebrates his 94th birthday at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape July 18, 2012. Credit: Reuters