In London's Trafalgar Square, which for decades was at the centre of anti-apartheid protests, there was a fitting focus for tributes to Mandela. Hundreds queued up to sign a book of condolence at the South African high commission.
And, as ITV's Special Correspondent Rageh Omaar reports, many also remembered the leading role Britain played in helping end South Africa's racist regime.
Anti-apartheid campaigners paid tribute to the man they spent decades trying to free at a Nelson Mandela vigil in central London.
Former members of the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) spoke of their grief at his death and their relief that he was at peace after a long illness.
They and several hundred supporters gathered outside South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, which once played host to demonstrations against apartheid.
Football fans have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela as teams observed a minutes applause to mark the death of the former South African President.
During 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela's cause often found a voice in Britain which became a temporary home for many South African exiles.
ITV News Special Correspondent Rageh Omaar reports on a friendship that saw past the apartheid:
People are still queuing around the block at South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, the line is two or three people deep in places as they wait to sign the book of condolence.
People have been singing songs from the liberation era and there have been promises that it will stay open until everyone has signed the book, which at the moment looks like it could be many hours.
In the last hour Zindzi Mandela, who was been in London for the film premier of the Mandela biopic has left her hotel in order to head back to South Africa to be with her family.
Prince Charles said he has "nothing but the happiest and fondest memories" of Nelson Mandela and that the world "will be a poorer place without him".
The Prince of Wales smiled as he recalled meeting Mandela in South Africa with the Spice Girls, which he said was "very enjoyable".
"We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for what he's managed to achieve in his life", he added.
Model Naomi Campbell said it would take time to come to terms with the death of Nelson Mandela and that he had given her "a reason for being" during difficult periods in her life.
Campbell said: "Nelson Mandela has stood as a figure of strength, hope, freedom, selflessness and love, and I join everyone across the world in mourning his passing.
"However, he was much more than just a figurehead to me - he was my mentor, my honorary grandfather, my Tata.
"Since meeting him in 1993, he's guided me and gave me a reason for being in the tough times of my life. He changed my perception of the world."
Civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson said he was sad to announce the death of Nelson Mandela.
Rev Jackson was speaking at a dinner last night when he heard the news. He went on to pay tribute to the former South African president.
Jerry Dammers, who wrote the anthem Free Nelson Mandela, has said that it should not be forgotten how much of the former President of South Africa's life was taken by the 27 years he spent in prison.
He said: "He actually died a very young man he had... 27 years in prison. A large part of his life was taken and we shouldn't forget that. He was a young man, he wasn't an old man."
He added that despite Mandela's poor health in recent years the news of his death yesterday still came as a shock.
Sir Paul McCartney has said Nelson Mandela "was one of the great men of all time" and he wished they had met.
Sir Paul said: "I particularly admired his lack of bitterness towards his jailers, which I think set the tone for South Africa's transition to democracy.
"I never actually got to meet him although I wished I could have done and, in fact, I would say he is the greatest man I never met ".