Flags at Cambridge University are at half-mast for the private funeral for Prof Stephen Hawking.Actor Eddie Redmayne, who played the role of Professor Stephen Hawking in the 2014 biographical drama The Theory of Everything, has arrived at the University Church of St Mary the Great in Cambridge for Prof Hawking’s funeral.
Five hundred invited friends, colleagues and family are expected to attend Saturday’s private service, followed by a private reception at Trinity College.
Redmayne will give a reading at Prof Hawking’s funeral, with Ecclesiastes 3.1-11 as the chosen text.
This will be followed by a reading by the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees.
Eulogies will be delivered by Robert Hawking, Prof Hawking’s eldest child, and Professor Fay Dowker, a former student of Prof Hawking.
The service will be officiated by the Reverend Dr Cally Hammond, Dean of Cambridge University’s Gonville and Caius College, where Prof Hawking was a fellow for 52 years.
Prof Hawking’s coffin will be carried by six porters from the college, all in traditional uniform including bowler hats.
Many porters at the college knew Prof Hawking and provided support when he visited for dinners and other events, and they were asked by his family to be pallbearers.
Head porter Russ Holmes will walk ahead of the coffin as it is carried into the church.
The renowned British physicist died peacefully at his Cambridge home on March 14 at the age of 76.
The cosmologist had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his 20s.
In a statement, Prof Hawking’s 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.”
Prof Hawking’s family also thanked the university in their statement.
“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.”
Prof Hawking’s ashes will be interred close to the remains of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey on June 15.
A book of condolence for Prof Hawking remains open at Gonville and Caius College, and an online book has also been set up.