Crowds gathered outside Great St. Mary's church for Stephen Hawking's funeral

Thousands of people expected at Stephen Hawking's funeral

Some 500 invited guests gathered in Cambridge on Saturday (local) for the private funeral of famed British scientist Stephen Hawking.

Professor Stephen Hawking, long considered one of the greatest minds of our time, was laid to rest today in a service at the University where he studied and in the town that he lived.

Eddie, who portrayed the theoretical physicist The Theory of Everything, will give a reading during the funeral with Ecclesiastes 3.1-11 as the chosen text.

Mourners included Lily Cole, the actress and model, and Eddie Redmayne, the actor who played Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

A host of famous faces showed up at Hawking's funeral, who died peacefully at his home on 14 March, at the age of 76.

When the funeral procession entered the church, the bell rang out 76 times, one for each year of Hawking's life.

Confined to a wheelchair for most of his life after being diagnosed with motor neuron disease when he was 21, Hawking's towering intellect and sheer persistence struck a chord with ordinary people, Rees said in an appreciation published earlier this month.

The world was shocked last month when Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, issued a statement confirming his death.

Hundreds packed the streets and applauded when Hawking's coffin arrived, carried by six porters from his university college, Gonville and Caius.

An arrangement of white lilies, meant to represent the universe, and another arrangement of white roses, representing the polar star, was placed on top of his coffin.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and playwright Alan Bennett were also in attendance.

The eulogy, read by professor Faye Dowker, praised Hawking as someone "revered for his devotion as a scholar to the pursuit of knowledge".

On June 15, Hawking's ashes will be interred close to the remains of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey.

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