Crowds of fans queued for hours on Tuesday for the chance to pay their respects to legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin, as the late star’s body laid in state in her beloved home city of Detroit, Michigan.
The Queen of Soul’s family made the decision to invite fans, and the media, to mourn the R-E-S-P-E-C-T singer over two days, with Franklin resplendent in an ornate gold casket, surrounded by lavish arrangements of her favourite flowers.
While black is still a common colour choice for funerals, Aretha’s family honoured her flamboyant style by selecting a bold red outfit for her final public appearance at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, telling the Associated Press that the outfit was something she “would have chosen for herself”.
Positioned with her legs crossed at the ankles – which The Sun reports is a nod to the fact that she was comfortable with being a strong woman – Aretha was dressed in a pair of high-heeled stilettos in a metallic shade of ruby red, which is said to have matched her striking red lipstick.
The red dress was symbolic of her membership in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which fights for the rights of African American women. She had been transported to the museum in a classic white LaSalle Sedan, The Sun reported, and her shining coffin snapped by crowds of photographers and admirers as it was wheeled in to the building.
The singer, who passed away at the age of just 76, was surrounded by roses in shades of lilac and pink, arranged in enormous displays similar to those she preferred to send loved ones. Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece, said: “After all she gave to the world, I felt we needed to give her an appropriate send-off that would match her legacy. She loved the city of Detroit and the city of Detroit loved her.”
Read more: ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76.
Aretha passed away on August 16 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. At the time her family said in a statement: “It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul.
“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
The two-day public viewing has been arranged as part of a week of commemorations for the star, who will be laid to rest on Friday.