The celebrity funerals inspiring Brits to plan ahead


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Planning your funeral in advance lets you have the final say on how you’re remembered. These celebrity funerals show that anyone can pre-arrange their funeral – and everyone can benefit from thinking about the future.

When world champion boxer Muhammad Ali died in June 2016, millions of fans from around the world were able to watch a livestream of his funeral to pay their respects. The funeral service, attended by over 20,000 people in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, had been planned in advance by The Greatest himself.

World championship boxer Muhammad Ali

Ali had reportedly been planning every detail of his memorial service for years, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. According to a spokesperson, Ali gathered his family together and told them exactly what kind of funeral he wanted. He made it clear that he wanted an inclusive funeral where everyone could pay their respects.

Timothy Gianotti, a scholar who helped Ali with some of the planning, told reporters: “The message that we’ll be sending out is not our message — this was really designed by The Champ himself.”

In the same year, singer David Bowie’s death shocked fans, who had no idea that the singer and musician was being treated for cancer. Although he kept his illness private, Bowie gave plenty of thought to how he wanted to be remembered.

The renowned artist and musician had discussed funeral plans in detail with his wife. He was cremated without a formal funeral service in Bali and his ashes scattered. The no-fuss, private funeral has inspired other Brits to explore direct cremation for their own funerals.

David Bowie performing live

You can plan your direct cremation in advance with an Avalon Cremation Only plan. Secure Funeral Director fees at today’s prices and make sure you get the simple funeral you want.

Pop legend Prince also planned his own funeral as a private, family-only affair. As a Jehovah’s Witness, Prince made it clear to friends and family that his funeral should be a dignified but simple ceremony.

However, the family also approved a star-studded memorial concert in honour of the Purple Rain singer. Around 20,000 fans bought tickets to the show in St Paul, Minnesota, where famous musicians including Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Jessie J performed Prince songs in tribute.

After the deaths of music icons Prince and Bowie, Canadian superstar Justin Bieber also started thinking about his final send-off. The singer, then just 22 years old, said he wanted his tombstone to have a solar-powered hologram of himself – so that fans could still feel close to him and his music years after his death.

Other celebrities who’ve started planning their own funeral include actress Kim Cattrall – who has a gravestone and burial plot in Liverpool already picked out – and Joanna Lumley, who was inspired by her parents’ funeral plans to think about her own send-off.

Why plan your funeral in advance?

Thinking about what kind of funeral you want, and talking to your loved ones about your wishes, is an essential way to plan for the future.

Arranging a funeral can be an upsetting and stressful experience, but knowing exactly what you would have wanted can help ease the pressure. Your loved ones will know you’re getting the funeral you wanted.

Buying a prepaid funeral plan lets you secure Funeral Director fees at today’s prices, protecting your loved ones against rising funeral costs and funeral debt. Find out more about our range of flexible funeral plans.


About the author

With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.