Crowds line the streets for Jade Goodys hearse
London, April 4: The only notable absentee today at Jade Goodys Princess Diana-style funeral was Shilpa Shetty but thousands lined the streets of London and tossed spring flowers as the reality television stars Rolls-Royce hearse made its stately progress.
After the cortege had made its way from Bermondsey, a working class area of south London where Jade had grown up in difficult circumstances, her coffin arrived at the St John the Baptist Church, in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. The London Community Gospel Choir sang Amazing Grace, as the service started.
The coffin was carried in by pall bearers, including her 21-year-old husband, Jack Tweed, who was given time off by the courts before he is sent back to prison after being convicted of threatening to stab a taxi driver.
Today, however, the tearful Tweed read a poem to his wife, who died of cervical cancer on March 22, Mothers Day, leaving behind two sons, Bobby, five, and Freddie, four.
They did not attend the funeral but were taken away to Australia by their father, Jeff Brazier, where they went to a beach near Sydney and sent a message to their one in a million mother in a bottle pushed gently out to sea.
Back at the church, where there was room inside for only 300, Tweed read a poem which was relayed live on two giant screens to the many Jade fans gathered in the sunshine.
At Dianas service at Wesminster Abbey, Elton John had sung Candle in the Wind. Now, in scenes that recalled the summer of 1997, Tweed read out a poem to his dear departed: My life will never be the same without you by my side,/ Grief almost too much to bear, pain difficult to hide./ But when we look into the sky for the brightest star above, Bobby, me and Freddie will send you all our love.
It was not clear whether the poem had been written by Tweed.Earlier, dozens of photographers had followed the hearse as it carried Jades coffin on a route that included Tower Bridge.
Police stopped traffic as the cortege was led through fine rain by the walking funeral director Barry Albin-Dyer and the vicar of St Jamess Church, Rev Stewart Hartley.
The latter released a white dove to loud cheering and applause. He also said a prayer before leading the crowd in three cheers for Jade.Jades mother Jackiey Budden, 51, was shaking and crying as she climbed into the car at the head of the funeral procession. The cortege stopped outside a market on Southwark Park Road, known as The Blue, where Jades family used to have a stall.
Meanwhile, the screens outside the church broadcast a collection of images of Jade to The Beatles song She Loves You. The montage ended with a film clip of Jade saying: Thats it from me. See you around maybe. Bye.
Paying tribute, Jades publicist Max Clifford said Jade became princess in Bermondsey and then a queen in Essex, which is probably not far from the truth.
He emphasised that many young women had sought cancer checks in the past few months: She achieved in seven months what doctors, politicians and medical experts can only dream of achieving. Her legacy is a wonderful one. Because of Jade Goody, lots of women have had their lives saved.
The funeral serviced was conducted by the Rev Corinne Brixton, associate minister of St John the Baptist church, who had also officiated at Jades baptism and wedding last month to Tweed.
She was a star, possibly the greatest star of what we term reality television, but we know that her life was far from free of the harsher realities of life, she told mourners. She had more than her fair share of lifes hardships but over the last few months she had inspired us, we admired her courage and dignity in facing death.Mourners applauded finally as Jades coffin was carried from the church for a private burial.
But no doubt pictures of the funeral will appear in numerous celebrity magazines, including Hello!, which has devoted its current cover story to Jades passing, considered an historic moment in contemporary Britain, as well as Shilpas plans to marry her businessman boyfriend, Raj Kundra, in October.
Shilpa has given an interview to Hello! claiming her romantic relationship with Raj did not begin until he had obtained a divorce from his wife, Kavita.
Shilpa, 33, and Raj, 34, have also invited Hello! into their £5 million, seven-bedroom property in Weybridge, Surrey, which the couple intend to use as their marital home.
In the Hello! interview, Shilpa has rejected allegations by Kavita that the Bollywood actress wrecked her marriage.
Shilpa has always maintained that when she met Raj early in 2007 after she had won Celebrity Big Brother, his marriage was effectively over.
Shilpa admits: To be honest, I think I was in love with Raj from day one ó but I was in denial.
She adds that she laid down a condition for Raj: I made it clear to him that our relationship could go no further than friendship until he actually had his divorce.
Newspapers accusations that she was a marriage wrecker caused her heartache.
It actually made me feel physically ill, says Shilpa. To be called a marriage-breaker was the worst thing possible. It brought such shame on to my parents, and I felt so bad for their sake.
Shilpa admits to Hello! that she cannot wait to start a family. Im desperate to start a family ó I just love children, and weve a beautiful ready-made nursery. I want, at least, two children.
Raj bought the house in Weybridge when he was still married to Kavita and wanted to sell when their marriage ended. According to Hello!, Shilpa told Raj to hang on to the property after his marriage hit the rocks.
There is already a childs bedroom here because Raj has a nephew and I can certainly see my children running around this place, a happy Shilpa tells the glossy. And there is enough space for us to live at one end while Rajs parents live at the other. In Indian culture you live as an extended family and this home is perfect for that.
With such an expansive property, which Shilpa has been furnishing and decorating to Bollywood standards, there might even be enough room for weekend visits by Deveena, Rajs two-year-old daughter from his first marriage.
Shilpa and Jade will forever remain joined together in life and in death.