Nearly two months after Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, provided a dramatic denouement to the late pop star's public memorial at the Staples Center by expressing her enduring devotion for the singer, Jackson's children again took center stage on Thursday night at their father's funeral.
As more than 200 family and close friends looked on, Jackson's three children — Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7 — opened the solemn ceremony by placing a golden crown on the gilded casket of the self-proclaimed King of Pop.
Though the funeral just outside the Great Mausoleum at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles was closed to the media and public, Jackson's spokesperson provided some details of the ceremony. The stage was covered with six large bouquets of white lilies and white roses, and on either side of a flower-decorated dais stood two pictures of Jackson in a bright yellow shirt and thick gold belt. Helicopter cameras hovering overhead showed that Jackson's family placed his flower-covered casket in front of the audience — including Macaulay Culkin, Mila Kunis, Stevie Wonder, ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, Corey Feldman, Elizabeth Taylor, Barry Bonds, Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones, Teddy Riley, Chris Tucker, Gladys Knight and the Reverend Al Sharpton — but due to the media blackout, no audio was available.
The pallbearers included Jackson's five brothers — Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy Jackson — who all wore suits with their brother's signature black armband and one sequined glove, according to Us Weekly. The opening prayer was delivered by Pastor Lucius Smith, who also offered prayers at July's Staples Center event. Singer and family friend Gladys Knight sang the gospel hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," accompanied by frequent Jackson collaborator keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, who was the musical director for the singer's "Bad" and "Dangerous" tours. Songwriter Clifton Davis sang the Jackson 5 song "Never Can Say Goodbye," which he penned for the group.
Among those who reportedly made spontaneous remarks from the podium were family patriarch Joseph Jackson, close family friend the Reverend Al Sharpton, as well as other friends and unnamed family members. "I just spoke at the conclusion of tributes," Sharpton wrote on his Twitter account during the ceremony. "Gladys Knight sang her heart out. Now we prepare to lay him to rest." The ceremony lasted about an hour and 15 minutes and wrapped up at approximately 9:45 p.m. PT. "Michael Jackson has been laid to rest," Sharpton tweeted around this time.
Following the ceremony, Jackson's brothers carried the casket into the Great Mausoleum, followed by guests.
"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," the statement said. "Their expressions of love for Michael and his music have sustained the Jackson Family."