Highlights from Michael Jackson's memorial
Michael Jackson memorial service: the biggest celebrity send-off of all time.
Michael Jackson's body, in a golden coffin, took centre stage as an estimated one billion people watched the biggest celebrity send-off of all time last night.
The singer once said his own funeral would be the "greatest show on earth" and he would not have been disappointed as music royalty turned out at a memorial service for the "King of Pop".
Many of the 11,000 fans who had won tickets in a global online lottery were reduced to tears as a stellar line-up, including Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, and Smokey Robinson appeared in an emotionally charged atmosphere at the Staples Center sports arena in Los Angeles. Jackson’s children sat in the front row of the crowd close to his coffin.
Among the singers chosen to perform was Shaheen Jafargholi, a 12-year-old from Swansea, who rose to prominence after singing the Jackson 5 song "Who's lovin' you" on ITV's Britain's Got Talent.
The ceremony began with a message of condolence from Nelson Mandela calling the singer a "giant and a legend".
Jackson's £15,000 coffin was then wheeled into the arena. It was made of solid bronze, plated with 14-karat gold and had a blue velvet interior.
It was placed in front of a stage decorated with extravagant floral tributes and a screen proclaiming: "In Loving memory of Michael Jackson, King of Pop 1958 - 2009".
Mariah Carey performed the Jackson 5 hit "I'll Be There" and was followed by the singer Queen Latifah, who fought back tears as she told the audience: "Michael was the biggest star on earth. In Birmingham, Alabama and in Birmingham, England we are missing Michael Jackson. We are the world."
Jackson's brothers, in the audience, wore single sparkling white gloves, echoing the singer's signature style. Eerie images of Jackson during his life and career were projected above his coffin.
Before performing, Stevie Wonder told the audience: "This is a moment I wished I didn't live to see come. Michael, I love you and I told you that many times."
Notable absentees included Debbie Rowe, the mother of Jackson's two elder children, who was invited but stayed away so as not to cause an "unnecessary distraction".
Elizabeth Taylor, a long time friend of Jackson, also stayed away, saying: "I cannot be part of the public hoopla. I love him too much."
Outside the arena tickets changed hands for hundreds of dollars but fears that up to 700,000 ticketless fans would besiege the building did not materialise.
Earlier, the singer's family and closest friends had gathered at Forest Lawn memorial park, a cemetery in the Hollywood Hills The mourners included his three children Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and Prince Michael II, seven, all clad in black.
As the family emerged from the cemetery's Hall of Liberty, Paris clutched the hand of the singer's mother Katherine, 79, a Jehova's Witness, and his brothers helped load the coffin, covered in red flowers, into a plain black hearse..
It was then driven 11 miles to the memorial service escorted by the California Highway Patrol. A helicopter had been on standby in case the roads were blocked by traffic.
It was not clear where the body would be taken after the memorial service, although it was likely to go back to Forest Lawn for burial.
Jackson's grave would remain secret as the cemetery never reveals the resting spot of its famous clients and some areas are closed off to the public.
Other stars known to be buried in the cemetery include Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Liberace, Bette Davis and Marvin Gaye.