26 JUNE 2008

Click here to see the host of stars at the gala dinner in our gallery

Only an icon of Nelson Mandela's stature could have this effect on the glamorous and powerful. Superstars from every field imaginable, many of whom had crossed the Atlantic, turned out to honour the charismatic former South African leader at a dinner in a marquee in London's Hyde Park.

First though, the elder statesman had a private audience at Buckingham Palace with an old pal - the British monarch. As they shook hands warmly, Mr Mandela, showing a flash of his famous charm, told his royal host: "You look younger every time I see you".

Clearly delighted with the compliment, the Queen went on to joke: "It's very nice weather - arranged just for you."

What had been organised especially for the anti-apartheid hero was the evening gala he hosted, which packed more star power than the red carpet on Oscar night.

Hollywood was represented in abundance as Robert De Niro, Will Smith, Forest Whitaker, Uma Thurman and Denzel Washington lined up to pay homage to the great man.

Elsewhere Elton John was seen catching up with Oprah Winfrey, while political figures among the guests included Bill Clinton, in town with his daughter Chelsea, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Having prepared the food for the evening Gordon Ramsay joined the party, mingling with the likes of Formula One ace Lewis Hamilton, who escorted American singer Nicole Scherzinger, and Bob Geldof.

Photo: ©
Visiting Buckingham Palace as part of the celebrations for his 90th birthday, the famous statesman greeted the Queen with the compliment: "You look younger every time I see you" Photo: © PA
Photo: ©
Later the elder statesman, seen with former US president Bill Clinton and actor Will Smith, hosted a fundraising dinner for guests from the worlds of politics, showbusiness and sport Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Joining Will on the former South African leader's special night were his fellow Hollywood heavyweight colleagues Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker and Denzel Washington Photo: © Getty Images