A host of celebrities and locals gathered at the funeral of renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in Cambridge Saturday, with actor Eddie Redmayne paying tribute to Hawking with a biblical reading.
Six pallbearers from Cambridge University’s Gonville and Caius College, where Hawking was a fellow for 52 years, carried his coffin from a hearse into the church while hundreds of local people lined the streets to pay their respects, the Press Association reported.
The family of the cosmologist, including his children Lucy, Robert and Tim, followed the coffin into the church, the report said.
Guests seen arriving for the service at the St. Mary the Great Church included model and Cambridge University graduate Lily Cole, Queen guitarist Brian May and comedian Dara O Briain, who made a documentary about Hawking.
Redmayne, who played Hawking in the 2014 biographical drama “The Theory of Everything,” gave a biblical reading at the service, and astronomer Martin Rees also gave an address.
Gonville and Caius College said in a statement that the family had chosen to hold the funeral “in the city that he loved so much and which loved him.”
Hawking was diagnosed at the age of 21 with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which left him in a wheelchair and needing to use a speech synthesizer to communicate.
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The long-standing Cambridge fellow died in his sleep on March 14 at the age of 76. The physicist told the BBC last year that he had “never expected to reach 75.”
Up to 500 family members, friends and colleagues were invited to attend the private funeral service, with other celebrities on the guest list including SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk and playwright Alan Bennett.
The funeral was followed by a private reception at Trinity College. Hawking’s ashes will be interred in June near the remains of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey.
Hawking said his greatest achievement was his discovery that black holes are not entirely black, which is crucial to “understanding how paradoxes between quantum mechanics and general relativity can be resolved.”