Kate Garraway laid her husband Derek Draper to rest at a funeral held at the same London church where they were married 18 years ago.
The popular Good Morning Britain presenter, 56, was joined by her and Mr Draper’s children, Darcey and Billy, for the private service at the Church of St Mary The Virgin in Primrose Hill on Friday.
The funeral was held nearly a month after Ms Garraway confirmed her “darling husband”, a psychologist and former political lobbyist, had died from a cardiac arrest, following an agonising four-year battle with long Covid, on 5 January. He was 56.
Among the many recognisable faces in attendance were Ms Garraway’s ITV colleagues, including Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard, along with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, former prime minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie Blair, and Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish.
Also present were TV stars including Piers Morgan, Alex Beresford, Robert Rinder, Fiona Phillips and her husband, This Morning editor Martin Frizell, and pop star Myleene Klass.
They were joined by political figures including Labour’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, former first secretary of state Peter Mandelson, and shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband.
Mr Draper, from Chorley in Lancashire, was a Labour Party lobbyist for almost a decade. A former researcher for Blairite Peter Mandelson, he quit politics in 1998 after being involved in the “Lobbygate” scandal, in which he was caught on record bragging to an undercover journalist about his ability to sell access to government ministers.
At the time, Mr Draper insisted he was innocent of any wrongdoing but admitted to having “a big mouth”.
He later retrained as a psychotherapist in the US, contributing regularly to newspapers and magazines, and writing two books: Blair’s 100 Days, and Life Support.
In 2008, he founded the LabourList website that was supportive of, but independent to, the Labour Party, and served as a rival to websites such as Conservative Home.
He stepped down as editor a year later, after email correspondence between him and one of prime minister Gordon Brown’s key aides, Damian McBride, was leaked.
In the emails, Mr McBride proposed a campaign of unfounded and “obscene” personal smears against senior Conservatives on a new blog called RedRag – an idea praised by Mr Draper as “absolutely, totally brilliant”.
Mr Brown apologised for the emails and said that while he was “horrified, shocked and very angry indeed” upon learning of them, he took “full responsibility for what happened”.
Mr Draper fell seriously ill during the early part of the pandemic, and spent 13 months in hospital before he was discharged. He suffered from extreme complications after contracting the disease, including organ damage, and required constant care.
His final public outing was to attend Mr Mandelson’s wedding to his long-term partner Reinaldo Avila da Silva last October.
Last year, Elton John invited Mr Draper and Ms Garraway to be his guests of honour at his Farewell Yellow Brick Road concert at London’s O2 Arena, where he stunned them by dedicating his hit single “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to Mr Draper and his family.
Calling the couple “inspiring”, John told his 20,000-strong audience that they had been “through hell” but had “never given up”.
Appearing on her Smooth Radio show the following day, the Good Morning Britain host explained that the message had been particularly special as “right up to the last minute” she hadn’t known if it would even be possible for Mr Draper to attend.
“It took weeks of planning and just days before, it looked like he would be too sick to attend,” she said. “But as soon as we got into the stadium and Elton went on stage, he started weeping tears of joy, and squeezed my hand so tightly.”
Ms Garraway spent nearly four years caring for Mr Draper. Through that time, she continued to shine a light on the family’s struggles in a bid to raise awareness about long Covid and what it was like caring for a loved one suffering from it.
She captured the devastating and permanent impact the disease had on her family in the award-winning documentary Finding Derek.
Ms Garraway was awarded an MBE by the Prince of Wales in recognition for her services to journalism, broadcasting and charity, during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in July last year.
In a statement shared on Instagram announcing her husband’s death last month, she wrote: “I’m sad to have to tell you all that my darling husband Derek has passed away. As some of you may know, he has been critically ill following a cardiac arrest in early December which, because of the damage inflicted by Covid in March 2020, led to further complications.
“Derek was surrounded by his family in his final days and I was by his side holding his hand throughout the last long hours and when he passed. Sending so much love and thanks to all of you who have so generously given our family so much support.
“Rest gently and peacefully now Derek, my love, I was so lucky to have you in my life.”
Ms Garraway was pictured wearing a long black coat and a pearl necklace while entering the church where she and Mr Draper tied the knot in 2005.
Darcey Draper, 17, was among those carrying her father’s coffin at the funeral service.
In a tribute, Mr Blair described the former Labour adviser as a ruthless political operative and “an important part of the New Labour story”.
“It is extraordinary and remarkable that Derek survived so long after the ravages of Covid,” he said in a statement. “And that was in large measure due to the love Derek had for his family and they for him. This also says something very special about Derek.
“He was a tough, sometimes ruthless political operative, a brilliant adviser and someone you always wanted on your side. But underneath that tough exterior he was a loving, kind, generous and good-natured man you wanted as a friend.”
Mr Morgan previously praised Ms Garraway’s “commitment, dedication, and loyalty” to Mr Draper through his arduous and painful health struggles.
Writing a column forThe Sun after Mr Draper’s death, the TalkTV presenter noted: “Their marriage was even more magnificently powerful in the face of such tremendous adversity than it was in the good times, fuelled by a mutual love so profoundly deep that few experience anything like it.”
Speaking on behalf of his friend, Mr Shephard previously said Ms Garraway and her children were in the “next stages” of grieving for Mr Draper in an update on 11 January.
He told GMB viewers that Ms Garraway was beyond grateful for the outpouring of love and support for her family as they navigated a world without Mr Draper.
Ms Garraway provided health updates about her husband on the ITV morning programme and fronted two documentaries on the channel about how the family’s life had changed following his illness.
She confirmed she would take a leave of absence from her presenting roles, including on GMB, after Mr Draper’s death.
Ms Garraway plans to return to work in the future, according to the PA news agency.
Additional reporting from wires