S African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu awarded Templeton Prize as well

Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, the South African anti-apartheid campaigner whose name is often coupled with Nelson Mandela, has now been awarded the prestigious Templeton Prize.

The Templeton Prize, administered by the US-based Templeton Foundation, carries a cash award of $1.7 million and is given each year to a living person who has made "an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension".

Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, was cited by the awards committee for his lifelong work to promote "love and forgiveness".

He will be presented with the award at a ceremony in London on 21 May.

Tutu, 81, rose to fame in the 1980s as a vocal opponent of South Africa's white-minority apartheid regime,

Last year's Templeton awardee was the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, who gave the money to charity.

Tutu thanked "all the wonderful people who accepted me as their leader at home" for the prize.

"When you are in a crowd and you stand out from the crowd it's usually because you are being carried on the shoulders of others," he said.

The prize was set up in 1972 by the late investor and philanthropist John Templeton. Its first winner, in 1973, was Mother Teresa.

Tutu spoke out vigorously against apartheid during the years when Nelson Mandela was in prison. He won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his work, which he said has always been motivated by religion.

When Mandela became President of South Africa he chose Tutu to chair the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated crimes committed by all sides during apartheid.

Tutu has since given advice to communities elsewhere seeking reconciliation in the wake of conflict, including Northern Ireland and the Solomon Islands.

Cape Town's St George's Cathedral, where Tutu served as archbishop from 1986 to 1996, will host its own celebration of the prize on 11 April.

The Templeton award was announced as his friend and fellow Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela was fighting pneumonia in a third health scare in four months.