Mr Speaker's tribute at 'A Commemoration and Celebration of the Life of Nelson Mandela'
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, paid tribute to Nelson Mandela at 'A Commemoration and Celebration of the Life of Nelson Mandela', held at Westminster Hall on 12 December 2013.
"We are assembled in a distinctly special setting to commemorate and to celebrate a distinctly special man. Nelson Mandela had profound respect for this Parliament, as it has for him.
"It is no accident that his statue, now festooned with flowers, stands in Parliament Square.
"His appearance in Westminster Hall on his State Visit as President in 1996, hand held in hand with my esteemed predecessor the then Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, remains among the searing images under these timbers which have seen one thousand years of history.
"He also had a broader, deeper affection for and appreciation of this country; its citizens, its institutions and its individuals.
"Among his many bequests is an extraordinary bond between Britain and South Africa, rooted of course in history, but which acquired strength through him. His passage from protest to prison to power, verges on a parable. His personal story encapsulates the political story of a century.
"He was a man who became a mission and then a message. A giant. A hero. A friend. We are honoured this afternoon to honour him."