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Archbishop Desmond Tutu will receive a £1.1million prize at a ceremony in London, awarded for “affirming life’s spiritual dimension”.

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The 81-year-old landed the 2013 Templeton Prize for his lifelong work in advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness which have helped to liberate people around the world, organisers said.

Tutu will receive the Templeton Prize at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on May 21.

The former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town said: “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.

“I want to acknowledge all the wonderful people who accepted me as their leader at home and so to accept this prize in a representative capacity.”

The Templeton Prize has been the world’s largest annual monetary award given to an individual for the past 40 years.

Tutu joins a distinguished group of 42 former recipients.

Dr John M Templeton Jr said: “By embracing such universal concepts of the image of God within each person, Desmond Tutu also demonstrates how the innate humanity within each of us is intrinsically tied to the humanity between all peoples.”

Last year’s Templeton Prize Laureate was the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader.

The prize celebrates “a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.”

The prize was established in 1972 by the late global investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton.

It is a cornerstone of the John Templeton Foundation’s “international efforts to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.”

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