Michael Jackson's funeral under way in Los Angeles Michael Jackson's funeral has begun with family gathered for a private service, before his body is taken to the Staples Center public memorial in Los Angeles.
By Nick Allen in Los Angeles Published: 4:49PM BST 07 Jul 2009 Previous of Images Next Michael Jackson funeral: mourners arrive at Forest Lawn Memorial Center in Los Angeles Mourners arrive at the Forest Lawn Memorial Center Photo: AFP/Getty Michael Jackson's body to be taken to memorial service at Staples Centre Los Angeles Police Department chief Bill Bratton confirmed Jackson's body would be taken to the sports arena after family members paid tribute to the star. Photo: GETTY
His casket will occupy centre stage at the star-studded memorial show, where Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie will be among the performers.
It has been suggested that Jackson's body will be transported to the Staples Center by helicopter to avoid crowds thronging the streets, and a SWAT team from the Los Angeles Police Department will provide an escort.
A motorcade of black limousines and Range Rovers, accompanied by the California Highway Patrol, swept out of the Jackson family compound shortly before 8am. Sections of the freeway were shut down at the height of the Los Angeles rush hour to allow them to pass.
The family were taken to the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills for the private funeral service. Jackson's children, Paris Michael, 12 Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II, were not seen, but his parents, Joe and Katherine, were filmed walking into the building, along with Jackson's siblings.
Los Angeles Police Department chief Bill Bratton confirmed Jackson's body would be taken to the sports arena after family members paid tribute to the star.
He said: "My understanding is that Mr Jackson's remains will be moved to the Staples Center but we're not giving any details at this juncture."
The news added to the Jackson fever currently gripping downtown Los Angeles. Police blocked off roads and warned those without tickets to stay away.
It was not clear where the body would be taken after the ceremony, although it is likely to be taken back to Forest Lawn for burial.
More than one billion people are expected to watch the memorial service.