Queen Elizabeth was among many world leaders who paid tribute to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Sunday, 26 December 2021.

Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: The Royal Family

‘I am joined by the whole Royal Family in being deeply saddened by the news of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world.

‘I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humour.

‘Archbishop Tutu’s loss will be felt by the people of South Africa, and by so many people in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in such high affection and esteem.’


The Queen met Archbishop Tutu on many occasions both in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away on Boxing Day (26 December 2021), aged 90, from prostate cancer at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Capetown.

He is best known for speaking out against apartheid in South Africa and won the Nobel Prize in 1984 in recognition of his non-violent opposition to white minority rule.

Archbishop Tutu witnessed the end of apartheid ten years later and was appointed chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was established to uncover those atrocities which were committed under the previous regime.

He was born Desmond Mpilo on 7 October 1931 in Klerksdorp, near Johannesburg, the second son of Zachariah Zelilo Tutu and Allen Dorothea Mavoertsek Mathlare.

Desmond originally trained as a teacher in 1951 at Pretoria Banu Normal College where he met future President Nelson Mandela during one debating event, before obtaining his Transvaal Bantu Teachers Diploma.

He married Nomalizo Leah Shenxame, his sister Gloria’s friend, whilst teaching English at Madibane High School. They married in June 1955 and had four children.

Desmond attended St Peter’s Theological College in Rosettenville in Johannesburg before he was ordained as an Anglican priest in St Mary’s Cathedral, before undertaking further theological studies at King’s College in London.

He became the face of the anti-apartheid movement overseas during the 1980s whilst many ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were in prison and he worked tirelessly to end discriminatory policies in South Africa.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu died on Boxing Day, 26 December 2021. Public Domain

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