ROYALTY, politicians and journalists were among a cast of thousands who filed into Westminster Abbey to pay their final tributes to the late, great broadcaster Sir David Frost.
The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Sir Michael Parkinson, Lord Owen and Joanna Lumley were among the guests who came to honour Sir David, who died last August aged 74.
And, after a glittering career lasting more than half a century, it was fitting that the broadcaster had the first word during the service, with guests treated to a montage of Sir David’s broadcasting career, including his famous interviews with disgraced US President Richard Nixon and former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s surprised reaction when he asked him if he and George Bush prayed together.
Later, Prince Charles was joined by Sir David’s widow, Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard, to lay flowers on a memorial stone which read “1939 Sir David Frost OBE, Broadcaster, 2013”.
Among the great and the good who spoke to honour him were the BBC’s director-general, Lord Hall and Sir Michael Parkinson, who delivered readings.
Dean of Westminster the Very Rev Dr John Hall said Sir David was “amongst our greatest communicators”.
He said: “Surely it was the warmth of his humanity, his interest in people, and what made them tick, that made his ‘Hello, good evening and welcome’ welcome in the world’s living rooms.”
Two of Sir David’s sons delivered poems during the service and hymns included He Who Would Valiant Be and Jerusalem.
Ronnie Corbett, who worked with Sir David in the 1960s satire boom that launched both their careers, was among those reading prayers during the service.
The service reflected the thread of humour and satire which ran through his career with a comic tribute from Lumley called A Sonnet Of Sorts For A Star, which she co-wrote with musician Sir Richard Stilgoe.
It began: “Shall I compare thee to Sir Robin Day? Thou wert more lovely and more temperate. Earth has not anything to show more fair, Hello, good evening, welcome, Frosty’s there.”
The humorous tribute included the lines: “No more TV-am, no Al Jazeera – We end not a career, but end an era; For now he’s gone, ascended into orbit, And ‘I look up to him’ (quoth Ronnie Corbett).” It concluded with the line: “When Frost has gone, can spring be far behind?”
Known for his incisive interviews – above all, with Nixon, Sir David spent more than 50 years as a television star.
His interview style was considered non-aggressive, affable and effusive – but he had a talent for extracting intriguing information and revealing reactions from his subjects. During his series of five interviews with Nixon in 1977, the slippery former president admitted that he had “let down the country”.