Actor Eddie Redmayne has given an emotional reading at the funeral of professor Stephen Hawking, as mourners turned out in Cambridge to farewell the eminent physicist and author.
The private service for 500 invited guests was held at St Mary The Great Church, but hundreds more lined the streets to pay tribute as the funeral procession passed by.
Hawking died peacefully at home on March 14, having long-suffered from motor neuron disease, and the church bells tolled 76 times, once for each year of his life.
Redmayne, who portrayed the professor in the 2014 film The Theory Of Everything, delivered a reading from the book of Ecclesiastes at the service.
Martin Rees, who currently holds the position of Britain‘s Astronomer Royal, also delivered a reading; family members and a former student of Hawking’s delivered eulogies.
In an earlier statement, the professor’s three children Lucy, Robert and Tim said:
“On behalf of our whole family we want to express our huge gratitude to all the wonderful tributes to our father and to those who have sent us messages of condolence. Our father lived and worked in Cambridge for over 50 years. He was an integral and highly recognisable part of the university and the city. For this reason, we have decided to hold his funeral in the city that he loved so much and which loved him.”
“Our father’s life and work meant many things to many people, both religious and non-religious. So, the service will be both inclusive and traditional, reflecting the breadth and diversity of his life. We would like to thank Gonville and Caius College, the University of Cambridge and Trinity College, Cambridge for their assistance with our father’s funeral service.”
Stephen Hawking will be cremated, and his ashes are set to be interred at Westminster Abbey on June 15, near the resting place of his fellow physicist Isaac Newton.