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Following the news of Nelson Mandela passing on 5 December, we look back at his special connection with the Royal Parks.

Nelson Mandela first visited the Royal Parks on a bright summer's morning in July 1996. At 7.30am a crowd gathered to watch Nelson Mandela make the walk from Buckingham Palace to St James's Park, to plant a London Plane tree.

The tree was officially named 'The Mandela Tree' and Neville Labovitch, Chairman of the Prince of Wales' Royal Parks Tree Appeal at the time, said, "It's special in a world of pollution. It thrives, it's strong, and it's dependable. It will live for a very long time. It is a Mandela tree."

The Mandela Tree in St James's Park The Mandela Tree Plaque

Addressing the crowd which included dancers and singers from the South African Music Village, Nelson Mandela called the tree 'symbolic' and added, "I wish I had the resources to come and water it every week."

Nelson Mandela in St James's Park

Nelson Mandela later visited another Royal Park - Hyde Park - in June 2008 to celebrate his 90th birthday at the 46664 concert. The gig was attended by 46,664 (his prison number) people including royalty, politicians and leading names in the sport, film and entertainment world. The concert proceeds went to the 46664 campaign to raise awareness about the impact of AIDS and promote effective HIV prevention measures throughout the world.

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