June Whitfield funeral touching beyond words – Joanna Lumley

Absolutely Fabulous actress Joanna Lumley said she had to “mop up” her make-up after shedding tears at the “touching” funeral of her co-star Dame June Whitfield.

Speaking with a glass of Champagne in her hand at the celebration of Dame June’s life in a marquee next to All Hallows Church in Tillington, West Sussex, the 72-year-old said: “The service was just beautiful, the feeling in the church was more like a wedding than a funeral.

June Whitfield funeral
Joanna Lumley (second left) leaves the church after the funeral (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“June insisted it wasn’t going to be all black and gloomy and the music was the best with Sinatra and Ella.

“The funeral was touching beyond words, funerals are always touching because the person is actually there and so many people have said they have the feeling she hasn’t gone, her spirit was there, funny, generous and lovely.”

Jennifer Saunders, who also starred in the popular comedy, said: “It was absolutely marvellous, which was so typical of June, perfectly judged, we all had happy tears of joy.

“She wanted people not to be miserable, she wanted to have a happy memory of her and ending with ‘Everyone get happy’. It was perfect, it was so typical and beautiful and graceful and light.

“She had the lightest touch and the sun came out, which couldn’t have been better. She was an amazing woman.”

June Whitfield funeral
Jennifer Saunders (left) arrives at All Hallows Church in Tillington, West Sussex (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Ab Fab co-star Julia Sawalha said: “The service was absolutely beautiful, very moving to hear memories from Roy Hudd and Suzy (Aitchison).

“We try to stop the tears because June wouldn’t have wanted us to cry but you can’t help it.

“It doesn’t feel like she has gone anywhere and I was extremely moved as she was taken out of the church to the music of Judy Garland – it was like she was dancing out of the church.

“That was the hardest bit to be happy because it made me feel so sad.

“It was perfect and everything she would have wanted, it was humble and beautifully glamorous.”

June Whitfield funeral
Nerys Hughes was also among the mourners (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Other famous faces among the 300 mourners were actress Nerys Hughes and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth.