|12-02-2005, 11:22 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: A Place Called San Diego
Local Time: 05:26 AM
Northern Ireland prepares for Britain’s biggest funeral since Princess Dianna.
George Best's coffin arrived back in Northern Ireland today draped in a Manchester United flag.__________________
The soccer legend`s remains were flown on a privately chartered plane into RAF Aldergrove, where his father Dickie and four sisters were among grieving family members waiting to meet it.
Best`s son Calum and his agent Phil Hughes were on the flight with it.
As relatives embraced near the runway, two pipers played a lament at the head of the small party.
The body was put in the back of a hearse to be taken along a 20-mile route to the home of Best`s father in the Cregagh Estate, East Belfast, where it will be kept overnight ahead of tomorrow`s funeral when up to half a million people are expected to pay their final respects.
Calum placed a kiss on the coffin in a poignant moment before joining other family members in the two waiting limousines.
The footballing icon`s sisters Carol and Barbara, twin sisters Julie and Grace along with their husbands Alan McPherson, Norman McNarry, Peter Nixon and David Campbell were among the party waiting to meet the coffin.
Six police outriders formed an escort around the procession as it made its way out of the airbase.
Military staff and civilian workers who had stood in silence as they watched the emotional scenes broke into a spontaneous round of applause as the hearse drove off.
The coffin had been flown in from Northolt, west London, on a small Banderante twin propeller aircraft as the final leg on Best`s journey home began.
In what is expected to be the closest Northern Ireland has ever seen to a state funeral, a special memorial service will be held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont tomorrow before Best is taken to be buried beside his mother Ann in the family plot at Roselawn Cemetery on the Castlereagh Hills overlooking Belfast.
A private service will first be held for family at the Burren Way home of Dickie, 87, which has been turned into a shrine to his son.
People look at tributes for late soccer player George Best lying in front of a Christmas tree outside Belfast City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday Dec. 2, 2005. About 500,000 mourners are expected to witness the funeral on Saturday for the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland soccer player who died last week at a London hospital aged 59.
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