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Prince Albert honours Nelson Mandela at Monaco charity gala

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Dame Shirley Bassey, Bono and Naomi Campbell were among the international luminaries who witnessed Prince Albert of Monaco's heart-felt tribute to Nelson Mandela on Sunday. Describing the former South African leader as "the man who restored Africa's dignity and became an example for humanity", the Monegasque ruler told him: "You are a beacon, one of those rare lights that guide a life."

Mandela, who recently celebrated his 89th birthday, was accompanied to the event at Monaco's Hotel de Paris by his wife Graca Machel. The legendary elder statesman personally contributed several items to the evening's special auction, including a leather drum given to him by singer Carlos Santana. Proceeds went to humanitarian organisations including the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

Other items listed in the auction were a piece of rock from Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, a bedspread made from pieces of his signature silk shirts and the jersey American sprinter Carl Lewis wore to win one of his nine Olympic gold medals.

Prince Albert also donated personal pieces to the fundraising event, including watches and paintings. He was supported at the black-tie gala by his South African girlfriend Charlene Wittstock who has been an increasing fixture at his side in recent months, further fuelling speculation that a royal wedding is on the horizon.

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The former South African leader was described by his Monegasque host as an "example for humanity" at a charity gala in the principality Photo: © AFPy
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Albert's sporty girlfriend Charlene looked every inch the princess in a strapless black dress and stunning jewels as she supported her manPhoto: © Getty Images
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Bono and Queen Noor of Jordan were among the dignitaries attending the charity gala at Monaco's Hotel de ParisPhoto: © Getty Images