The funeral of legendary British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was held on Saturday in a private ceremony attended by around 500 people including family, friends and colleagues, at a church near the Cambridge University college that was his academic home for more than 50 years.
One of the world's famous scientists and author of 'A Brief History of Time' took his last breath at his Cambridge home on March 14 at the age of 76.
The British cosmologist had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his 20s and spent much of his life in a wheelchair.
British actor Eddie Redmayne, who was awarded an Oscar for his role of the world-famous theoretical physicist, was among the main speakers at the ceremony.
Lucy, Robert and Tim Hawking said they chose to hold the funeral in Cambridge in recognition that it is the city their father "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," they said in a statement.
As the church bell rang out 76 times, once for each year of the physicist’s life, hundreds gathered outside clapped in respect for Professor Hawking. The funeral will be followed by a private reception at Trinity College, Cambridge University.
Before the funeral, the college released new black and white photographs of Hawking taken in 1961 at a summer school for young astrophysicists at a castle in Sussex, southern England, when he was 19.
They showed him playing croquet and in a sailing dinghy, two years before he began experiencing the first symptoms of the motor neurone disease that would later leave him almost completely paralysed.
It was announced earlier this month that Hawking's ashes will be buried near the grave of Newton, another famous British scientist, during a thanksgiving service on June 15.
"It is entirely fitting that the remains of Professor Stephen Hawking are to be buried in the Abbey, near those of distinguished fellow scientists. Sir Isaac Newton was buried in the Abbey in 1727.
Charles Darwin was buried beside Isaac Newton in 1882," said the dean of Westminster, the Very Rev John Hall.