Nelson Mandela’s grandson today slammed Meghan Markle for suggesting her marriage to Prince Harry sparked scenes of joy in South Africa reminiscent of the 1990 release of the legendary anti-apartheid campaigner after 27 years in jail, telling MailOnline: ‘It can never be compared to the celebration of someone’s wedding.’
Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela has said he was ‘surprised’ at her remarks in The Cut magazine when she claimed that three years ago a cast member of the Lion King had made the comparison between her royal wedding and Madiba’s historic walk to freedom.
He said: ‘Madiba’s celebration was based on overcoming 350 years of colonialism with 60 years of a brutal apartheid regime in South Africa. So It cannot be equated to as the same.
Referring to Meghan, he said: ’Every day there are people who want to be Nelson Mandela, either comparing themselves with him or wanting to emulate him.
‘But before people can regard themselves as Nelson Mandelas, they should be looking into the work that he did and be able to be champions and advocates of the work that he himself championed’.
The furore was sparked by a 6,409-word article called ‘Meghan of Montecito’ published yesterday, where the former Suits star recalled an encounter she had at the 2019 London premiere of a live-action version of the Disney classic.
She said an actor from South Africa pulled her aside and told her: ‘I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison’.
But MailOnline has learned that the story has astonished the Mandela family. ‘Mandla’ Mandela, an MP and Chief of the late South African President’s Mvezo tribe, said he was ‘surprised’ at her remarks.
His grandfather served 27 years in prison before being released and re-uniting opponents and going on to lead his country.
Zwelivelile said when the people of South Africa expressed their joy at his grandfather’s release and danced in the streets, it was for a far more important and serious reason than her marriage ‘to a white prince’.
The African National Congress MP added: ‘We are still bearing scars of the past. But they (Mr Mandela’s celebrations) were a product of the majority of our people being brought out onto the streets to exercise the right of voting for the first time.
‘He spoke for oppressed minorities, children and women and protracting the most vulnerable people in our society.
‘He always spoke about oppressed nations around the globe and yet people are silent on those issues.
‘But this is what we like to see (from) people when they regard themselves as being a “Nelson Mandela”.
‘Then you could be a a champion of the causes that he represented.’
He added: ‘My advice to everyone is to live the life Nelson Mandela lived and support the causes he supported.
‘That is the ultimate litmus test. What is the value of people dancing in the street and chanting President Nelson Mandela’s name when what they stand for is diametrically opposed to what he stood for?
‘Nelson Mandela’s release from jail was the culmination of nearly 350 years of struggle in which generations of our people paid with their lives. It can never be compared to the celebration of someone’s wedding.’
Meghan’s claim has sparked rage and ridicule with critics telling her to ‘get lost’ and accusing her of showing ‘utmost disrespect’.
Reacting to MailOnline’s exclusive story today, royal expert Angela Levin said: ‘How long is Meghan going to pour out her drivel? It’s enough already. Not a surprise to learn that Mandela’s grandson is cross Meghan compares her wedding to Mandela’s release from prison.’
Harry and Meghan have built up quite a relationship with the Mandela family in recent years – following in the footsteps of Harry’s parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Just last month, Harry gave a speech at the UN General Assembly for Nelson Mandela Day in New York City on July 18.
The Sussexes met Graca Machel, widow of Mandela, on the last day of their tour of Africa in 2019. Harry also met Ms Machel when he visited South Africa in 2015.
And in 2018, Harry and Meghan met Mandela’s granddaughter Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela during a visit to the Nelson Mandela centenary exhibition at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Charles and Diana were also close with Mandela. The late Princess of Wales met him in Cape Town in March 1997, while she was in South Africa visiting her brother Earl Spencer.
And Charles took Mandela to Brixton in South London when he visited Britain in July 1996.
In addition, Mandela visited Diana’s ancestral home at Althorp in Northamptonshire in November 2002 to see where she was buried.
The Duchess of Sussex, 41, shared the new anecdote in another bombshell interview with a US magazine yesterday – but people have claimed that it was not their experience of what happened on May 19, 2018.
After her claim the hashtag #VoetsekMeghan began trending in South Africa. Voetsek is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘go away’ or ‘get lost’ and is a common slur used by millions in the country.
An angry Twitter user said: ‘No one was rejoicing in the streets of South Africa when she got married. For her to imply that it was the same as when President Mandela was released is the utmost disrespect’.
Another South African claimed: ‘From South Africa, I can promise you 1 thing, nobody but nobody celebrated in the street as with when Mandela was released over a foreign state wedding, yes we watched at home happy for the couple, that was that’.
One critic said: ‘Comparing your marriage to Nelson Mandela being released? What a pompous & arrogant thing to say’. Another said: ‘Her arrogant and yet delusional comparison of herself to Mandela is yet another insult to South Africa’.
Meghan managed to get up South African’s noses after her first Archetypes Spotify podcast where she described the mansion where she stayed on a royal tour with Harry and Archie as a ‘housing unit’.
One South African commentator, Howard Feldman, wrote yesterday: ‘Sorry Meghan only South Africans are allowed to speak ill about the country. Meghan should have stayed out of it’.
In July Prince Harry used his keynote speech at the UN General Assembly for Nelson Mandela Day, in New York City, to again wade into US politics as he blasted the ‘rolling back of constitutional rights’.
The Duke of Sussex launched a thinly-veiled attack on the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade ruling last month that handed abortion rights back to individual states.
The 37-year-old claimed it was part of a ‘global assault on democracy and freedom’ as he also cited Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine among problems facing the world.
South Africans have already hit out at Meghan Markle after she told of an apparent fire that broke out in her son Archie’s room while she was on a tour of the country.
Archie, then four months old, was not in the room in Cape Town when a heater started to smoke – but the incident left the Duchess of Sussex ‘shaken’ and ‘in tears’, she told tennis star Serena Williams in her new podcast.
Others are understood to recall the incident which took place on September 23, 2019 – and while they do not remember there actually being a fire, the heater was certainly smoking and was unplugged and dealt with.
Despite the upset, Meghan said in the Spotify podcast that she was obliged to continue with official engagements, accusing those running the tour of concentrating on ‘how it looks, instead of how it feels’.
However, South Africans have not taken too kindly to her claims on social media, to the point where ‘#VoetsekMeghan’ – an offensive term meaning ‘go away’ – was trending on Twitter.
One wrote: ‘South Africa… You’re amazing – the #VoetsekMeghan tag is brilliant. She’s single handedly offending the world country by country! Shame really when most of her fanbase is in SA…oopsie!’
Another said: ‘I don’t care about the fire incident but the statement: coming to South Africa was the bravest thing she has done. Speaks volumes. As if she was coming to some apocalypse state or something. She should elaborate on what was brave about it, is it because is in Africa? #VoetsekMeghan’
A third added: ‘So after the supposed fire , Meghan could have taken Archie to their engagements in South Africa. Catherine did it in Australia and New Zealand without issue. Why could she not? You know why? Because then it would no longer be just about her! #VoetsekMeghan’.
Sources have defended the Duchess over the incident, saying it would have understandably caused concern to any parent. The Sussexes were subsequently moved to different accommodation as the tour continued.
There would undoubtedly have been an expectation for Harry and Meghan to go on with their engagements after months of planning on the ground – but as senior royals, the couple would have had the final say on continuing.
And one source told the Daily Telegraph that any announcement about Archie being at risk of fire – or having to cancel an event where they spoke to people about Apartheid – would have overshadowed the couple’s work.
Later that same day following the incident, the couple visited Cape Town’s historic District Six neighbourhood, met residents in its Homecoming Centre and heard from people who were forcibly removed to a township during the Apartheid era, with the Sussexes also carrying out an impromptu walkabout.
District Six is a former inner-city residential area in Cape Town where freed slaves, artisans, immigrants, merchants and the Cape Malay community lived – but in 1966 the government declared it a ‘whites-only area’, and more than 60,000 residents were forcibly removed and relocated to the Cape Flats township about 15 miles away.