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  1. ITV Report

Meeting Mandela: Memories of a young girl who met leader in Cardiff in 1998

People across Wales have been recalling their memories of Nelson Mandela when he made his sole visit here in 1998.

The former South African president was awarded the Freedom of the City of Cardiff in the castle grounds on June 16th of that year.

During the ceremony, he was joined on stage by six-year-old Emma Williams from Creigiau in Cardiff.

Emma, now aged 22, told ITV News: "Initially I was supposed to hand a bouquet of flowers [to Nelson Mandela], then sit in the audience with my dad.

"But he said to me: 'Do you want to come up on stage with me, on the podium?'

"Everyone was panicking, saying 'No, there's not enough seats, there's a set amount of seats.' And he said: 'She can sit on my lap.' So I went up with him and sat on his lap for the ceremony."

Six-year-old Emma Williams, pictured on 16 June 1998, sitting on Nelson Mandela's lap at Cardiff Castle Credit: David Jones/PA

Emma said she did not first realise the significance of their meeting as she was so young, but now feels privileged to have met such an 'inspirational' person.

"When I was six I didn't really understand his story," she said.

"But as I grew older I learned more and more about him and realised just how special [meeting him] was."

Video: Emma Williams recalls meeting former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1998

Six-year-old Emma, dressed in Welsh costume, listens to 'Cor Meibion De Cymru' during Nelson Mandela's visit in 1998 Credit: David Jones/PA

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