Hawking’s first wife, Jane, and daughter, Lucy, were among an eclectic crowd that included scientists and schoolchildren; politicians, including British Culture Secretary Matt Hancock and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn; Chic guitarist Nile Rogers; actress Lily Cole; comedian David Walliams; and talk show host Piers Morgan.
Guests also included 1,000 members of the public selected by ballot from 25,000 applicants. A private funeral service was held in March in Cambridge, where Hawking lived and worked for decades.
The service included biblical readings by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a BBC drama, and by Lucy Hawking. Astronaut Tim Peake read from “Queen Mab,” by poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, which evokes the wonders of the universe.
Kip Thorne, a Nobel Prize-winning American physicist, paid tribute to “by far the most stubborn friend I ever had.”
“He absolutely refused to let his physical disability get in the way of doing great science or get in the way of having great fun,” Thorne said.
The 900-year-old abbey is the resting place of a pantheon of British historical figures, including kings and queens, political leaders and writers like Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens.
Hawking was interred in the abbey’s Scientists’ Corner, beneath a stone inscribed: “Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking” — an English translation of the Latin words on the nearby grave of Newton, the 17th-century scientist who discovered the laws of gravity. The stone is also inscribed with one of Hawking’s equations describing the entropy of a black hole.
After the service, Hawking’s words, set to music by Greek composer Vangelis, were being beamed into space from a European Space Agency satellite dish in Spain. Lucy Hawking said the music would be aimed at “the nearest black hole, 1A 0620-00,” more than 3,000 light years from Earth.