Hundreds gather to mourn Lisa Marie Presley at Graceland memorial service

People pay their respects at Memphis mansion that singer inherited from her father, rock legend Elvis Presley

More than a thousand mourners gathered in Graceland on a chilly, grey Sunday morning to pay their respects to singer Lisa Marie Presley at the Memphis, Tennessee, mansion she inherited from her father, rock legend Elvis Presley.

Presley died on 12 January at the age of 54. Earlier that day, she had been rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital after reportedly suffering cardiac arrest at her home. She is survived by her daughters, actress Riley Keough and 14-year-old twins Finley and Harper Lockwood.

Two days before her death, she had appeared with her mother, Priscilla Presley, at the Golden Globe awards in Beverly Hills, California, where actor Austin Butler won the best actor award for portraying her father in the film Elvis. Butler paid tribute to both women in his acceptance speech.

Presley began her music career in the 2000s with two albums, To Whom It May Concern and Now What, that made the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart.

She was married and divorced four times, including to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage.

Presley was only nine years old when Elvis died.

Some mourners on the front lawn of Graceland on Sunday held flowers as the service got underway under tall trees at the home where Lisa Marie lived as a child with her father.

Presley was remembered during the funeral service as a loving mother and an “old soul” who endured tragedy but persevered as a dedicated protector of her father’s legacy as a rock’n’roll pioneer.

The mansion is a museum and tourist attraction that hundreds of thousands of fans visit each year to celebrate the life and music of Elvis, who died in 1977.

The property in south Memphis was a place of sadness and somber memories under the heavy skies and the service began with the singing of Amazing Grace by Jason Clark & The Tennessee Mass Choir.

Axl Rose performs at the memorial.
Axl Rose performs at the memorial. Photograph: Nikki Boertman/Reuters

“We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the love, compassion and support you have shown our family during this difficult time,” said a message from the Presley family written on the program for the service. “We will always be grateful.”

Among those addressing mourners were Priscilla Presley and Sarah, Duchess of York, a longtime friend of Lisa Marie, and the singers Billy Corgan, Alanis Morissette and Axl Rose.

The former Memphis mayor AC Wharton spoke and called Lisa Marie Presley’s parents Memphis’s royal couple and a “conduit to the throne, the keeper of the flame”.

In a soft voice, Priscilla Presley read a poem from one of Lisa Marie’s three daughters, Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood, titled The Old Soul, in which she calls her mother “an icon, a role model, a superhero to many people all over the world”.

“In 1968, she entered our world, born tired, fragile, yet strong. She was delicate, but was filled with life,” Priscilla Presley read. “She always knew she wouldn’t be here too long. Childhood passes by, with a glimpse of her green eye. She then grew a family of her own.”

After reading the poem, Priscilla Presley said: “Our heart is broken. Lisa, we all love you.”

Sarah Ferguson delivered a eulogy and read a poem titled A Tribute to Their Children, written by George Frost, son of the British TV journalist David Frost, for his own father’s funeral service in 2014.

It began:

I’ve had my life and enjoyed every second,
But as it is, another life beckoned.

It’s important to know that I have not gone,
And I hope that, on you all, my light has shone.

Music punctuated the service. Corgan, lead singer of the Smashing Pumpkins, played acoustic guitar and sang To Sheila; Morissette sang Rest; Axl Rose, of Guns N’ Roses, played piano and sang November Rain; and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet performed two songs.

After the service, mourners walked through Graceland’s Meditation Garden, where Presley was laid to rest in an above-ground grave next to her son Benjamin Keough, who died in 2020, and alongside her grandparents and great-grandmother.

Wreaths and bouquets of red, white, yellow and pink flowers lined the walk up to the gravesite and the tomb itself. Fans, some teary-eyed, walked slowly by the tomb, pausing to pay their respects.

Guardian staff and agencies

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