updated 03/02/2007 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/02/2007 AT 11:50 AM ET
Anna Nicole Smith was buried Friday after a 90-minute church ceremony during which the three people who had battled over her remains since her Feb. 8 death spoke movingly and, in the case of her companion Howard K. Stern, angrily.
Singling out Smith’s “so-called family members” but without naming names, Stern vowed in a startling tone to continue to protect and fight for Smith in death. When he stepped away from the podium inside the Mount Horeb Baptist Church, his supporters stood and clapped.
Sitting among the 300 mourners were Smith’s mother Virgie Arthur, who tried as recently as today to have her estranged daughter’s funeral in the Bahamas stopped in favor of a Texas burial, and photographer Larry Birkhead, who is battling Stern for custody of Smith’s surviving infant daughter.
After the ceremony, Smith’s pink-draped coffin with flowing pink ribbons was loaded back into a white hearse and driven to Lakeview Memorial Gardens & Mausoleum, where a 20-minute graveside service attended by about 30 intimates preceded her burial alongside her son Daniel, who died in September at age 20, three days after her daughter Dannielynn’s birth in the Bahamas.
Earlier in the morning, a red-carpet rollout greeted Smith’s casket at the Nassau church, decorated inside with large bouquets containing pink and white roses and baby daisies.
Stern arrived in a dark suit with a pink ribbon on his lapel. Birkhead wore a dark suit and a pink tie, while Arthur arrived last, after filing an emergency legal motion in the Bahamas courts trying to halt the burial.
The motion was denied prior to the funeral’s 11:15 a.m. start.
Guests who arrived for the ceremony included John James, the All My Children actor who produced Smith’s last movie, along with his wife Denise and Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.
Richard Milstein, Dannielynn’s court-appointed guardian, issued a statement before the ceremony began describing the Bahamas as “a beautiful, lush setting that was chosen by Vickie Lynn Marshall, known as Anna Nicole Smith.
“This she chose as her final resting place,” Milstein said. “During her lifetime, Anna Nicole Smith became a larger than life persona. Her stars shown in the highest of zeniths, her pictures flashed, and her face was seen throughout the world. She luxuriated in that press, in that media, in that publicity.”
He continued: “Unfortunately, at a time when life should have been reaching its highest peak for her, she received both a blessing and a curse. She joyously gave birth to her only daughter, Dannielynn, and devastatingly, three days later, she lost her only son, Danny. If one were to write a Greek tragedy, one could not write a script as sorrowful and as hurtful as this. How horrific is it for a mother to have to bury a son under 21 years?
“With all of the publicity and all of the press of the past, Ms. Smith sought seclusion and solace here in the Bahamas, and decided to bury her son in private, in a quiet area of the world and from the public, and away from the media, so that she could have time and solitude with him in the sun. How much more tragic is that today that just five months later, we are coming here to bury Anna Nicole Smith, the mother who grieved so grievously for her son.”
Smith’s casket was carried into the one-story white chapel by six pallbearers, including former bodyguards Maurice “Big Moe” Brighthaupt and Houston police officer Troy Hollier and her Los Angeles attorney Ron Rale.
The casket arrived in the Bahamas after a private charter flight from Miami International Airport, which followed an hour-long, police-escorted drive from the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office outside of Fort Lauderdale where Smith’s body had been kept since her death Feb. 8.