Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 20:38 pm (KSA) 17:38 pm (GMT)

Poignant final farewell as Jackson laid to rest

Around 200 mourners gathered at a picturesque cemetery on a warm summer evening to celebrate the singer's life
Around 200 mourners gathered at a picturesque cemetery on a warm summer evening to celebrate the singer's life

Michael Jackson has finally been laid to rest in a crown-adorned glittering gold coffin after family and friends saluted the tragic "King of Pop" in a poignant farewell.

The singer, whose enormous success with such albums as "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" was overshadowed in later years by his extravagant lifestyle and child molestation allegations, died on June 25 with a mix of prescription medications in his body.

More than two months after the singer died from a drug overdose, around 200 mourners -- led by the Jackson family and also including Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor -- gathered at a picturesque cemetery on a warm summer evening to celebrate the singer's life.

 The Jackson Family wishes to once again thank all of Michael's fans around the world for their generous outpouring of support during this terribly difficult time 
Statement by Jackson family

Jackson's children -- Prince Michael 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II, otherwise known as "Blanket" -- placed a crown on their father's flower-laden coffin before the service got underway.

Unpredictable to the last, Jackson was late to his own funeral, his ornate casket set down before mourners more than 90 minutes after the service had been scheduled to start Thursday evening.

Jackson family

Michael Jackson was a known hypochondriac

Jackson's brothers -- all dressed identically in black suits and red ties while each wearing a solitary white glove in tribute to the pop icon -- served as pallbearers as the coffin was removed from the hearse.

His children reportedly left notes in their father's coffin reading "Daddy we love you, we miss you."

Mourners made spontaneous tributes to Jackson in a service held beyond the prying eyes of hundreds of media personnel gathered outside the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, home to a who's who of late Hollywood legends.

Soul legend Gladys Knight sang the gospel hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," while lyricist Clifton Davis belted out his "Never Can Say Goodbye," which became a hit song for the Jackson 5.

Following the ceremony, Jackson's brothers carried the casket into Forest Lawn's imposing Great Mausoleum, followed by guests.

"Michael Jackson reached his final resting place tonight at 9:43 pm (0443 GMT) in The Great Mausoleum at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park," a statement from the Jackson family read after the service.

"The Jackson Family wishes to once again thank all of Michael's fans around the world for their generous outpouring of support during this terribly difficult time."

Stars, close friends

Michael Jackson would have turned 51 in August

Earlier, a convoy headed by six Rolls Royce luxury limousines transported the family to the cemetery.

Other guests included close Jackson friends Taylor, actor Macaulay Culkin, comic Chris Tucker and outspoken rights activist Reverend al-Sharpton, who posted on micro-blogging site Twitter during the service.

"What MJ went through was so unfair, yet he succeeded," Sharpton said. "In the end, he was the biggest artist ever. He faced the headwinds but he made it."

But there was no sign of soul diva Diana Ross, who was named as a back-up guardian to Jackson's children in the singer's will.

Invites issued to guests urged mourners to celebrate Jackson's life.

"We loved him, we laughed with him, we sang with him. We danced with him. But on this day, we celebrate him," the invite read.

The mausoleum housing Jackson is also home to Hollywood icons Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard.

Stars buried elsewhere at Forest Lawn include Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy and Walt Disney.

Contrast

Michael Jackson: The Child Star

Thursday's service contrasted with the lavish public memorial held at the Los Angeles Staples Center in July, which was attended by 20,000 fans and beamed live around the world to an estimated billion-strong audience.

Police had cordoned off the neighborhood surrounding the cemetery after earlier urging fans to stay away from the event. Helicopters, sniffer dogs and plain-clothes officers patrolled the 300-acre (120-hectare) cemetery, on the lookout for any fans trying to gatecrash the service.

But die-hard devotees were undeterred and waited outside the perimeter. One group held up a banner reading: "King of Pop Michael Jackson Gone Too Soon."

Jackson's delayed funeral followed months of speculation about the exact cause of his death and reported divisions within the singer's family about where he should be buried.

Elder brother Jermaine had said he wanted the star to be interred at his Neverland Ranch estate north of Los Angeles. Jackson fled the property in 2005 after being acquitted on child molestation charges.

Los Angeles coroners said last week that Jackson's death was being treated as a homicide and revealed that he had six drugs in his body when he died, including the powerful anesthetic propofol.

The coroner's announcement fueled speculation that authorities may charge Jackson's personal physician, Conrad Murray, in connection with the death.

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