Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jackson buried as media looks on

LaToya Jackson arrived with her family as part of a large motorcade.
Pop star Michael Jackson was buried as he had lived - in the media spotlight.

As night fell over Los Angeles at least two dozen cars - black, luxury vehicles with dark windows - processed past the massed ranks of media and through the gates of Forest Lane cemetery.

Inside the motorcade were members of Michael Jackson's family - and they were more than an hour late.

A lot of the cars looked like they only contained one or two passengers.

Inside the memorial park Hollywood celebrities were waiting, including Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Macaulay Culkin and Jackson's ex-wife Lisa-Marie Presley.

They were seated among around 200 guests on white wooden chairs arranged outside one of the many ornate buildings on this site.

Guests fanned themselves in the close heat of the night with programmes containing pictures of Michael Jackson.


When his family came in, his mother Katherine and father Joe sat down in the front row.

Jackson's parents Katherine and Joe were clearly disconsolate.
His sister Janet looked upset as she took her seat. Jackson's three children sat between their grandparents and aunt.

Family members wore black arm bands. His brothers stood at the front, ready to repeat their roles as pall-bearers.

At the memorial service in July they had walked beside their brother's coffin. Now they did so again.

When everyone was seated, Jackson's coffin was driven in by hearse, unloaded and wheeled into place.

His three children walked up to it. We couldn't see what they did, but it was a brief farewell.

At that point the cameras were turned off and the rest of the service was private, as the family had requested.

The pictures we had seen were provided by agreement with the Jackson clan. It was an acknowledgement of the public spectacle that was the singer's life.

No-fly zone

The service lasted around an hour and cars departed swiftly.

Motown founder Berry Gordy was one of many big names in attendance.
Earlier, police had sealed off part of the area and even enforced a no-fly zone to keep news helicopters from buzzing overhead.

They had warned fans to stay away, and in large part they did.

I spoke to some of the few who did turn up. They understood they would see very little, but they didn't mind.

Kevin Harris said he thought people should have skipped work to come and pay their respects and was disappointed more did not.

But many would have watched on TV, which is exactly what the police and the Jackson family wanted.

His life was lived in the public eye, and now his death has been too.
By Rajesh Mirchandani

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