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Bert Newton state funeral: Inside St Patrick’s Cathedral for last farewell

The final farewell for Bert Newton was broadcast around the country but some moments were lost on the livestream.

Bert would’ve loved that.

As many noted in the lead-up to this morning’s state funeral at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, a ceremony of such scale was very much his style.

But it was more than the size of the thing that Bert would’ve enjoyed — it also brought together everything and everyone he loved during a lifetime in the spotlight that ended last week.

Inside the church, in scenes not captured on the livestream that was broadcast around the country, members of Australia’s television and broadcast elite chatted lovingly about the man who set the standard for them.

They gathered inside the front doors of the giant cathedral, under beautiful stained glass, to share stories about the man known fondly as “Moonface”.

There were lots of laughs before the funeral began, lots of smiles. And though there were sombre moments, this was not a time for sadness.

When Bert’s great friend Peter Smith read a letter from Bert’s son Matthew to the hundreds in attendance, laughter filled the cathedral.

Matthew, who shared a sense of humour with his father, joked that Patti would be just fine.

“You two were a team, are a team, and even though your partner isn’t on stage anymore, the show goes on and you’ll be OK. Mainly because you’ll have Lauren’s 97 children to take care of you,” he said.

But there were moments where tissues were reached for to catch tears, too.

Like when Lauren spoke of her dad’s last breath — one he took after Patti had left the room because he could never leave this world with her nearby.

And when the pair’s grandchildren stood bravely at the front of the church and offered prayers.

“Heavenly father, we pray for Poppy up in heaven. Lord hear us,” Monty offered sincerely.

Prior to the ceremony, as mourners gathered at the back of the church, Prime Minister Scott Morrison walked through the crowd to greet Patti warmly.

The pair spoke for several minutes, at one point sharing a laugh.

On the front of the service booklet handed to mourners as they entered the church was a picture of Bert smiling his big, enduring smile.

Inside the front cover, Bert and Patti were arm in arm again. Both smiling brightly.

In life and in death, Bert brought joy. But his absence will be keenly missed.

Outside the church, where Victoria’s media had gathered, a white hearse waited to take Bert to his final resting place.

Patti led the coffin past those inside, sobbing loudly and visibly upset. Her little grandchildren walked ahead of her, uncertain what to make of the pool of photographers taking their photographs.

Patti stood outside in the rain and the cold as Bert’s coffin was placed inside the hearse and the doors closed. She hugged one of her granddaughters and reached out her hand one last time to her husband.

As doves were released, she held the little girl closer still. A private moment in a very public setting.

One mourner summed up the day perfectly.

“Bert would’ve approved,” she said.

The man who knew how to command an audience was farewelled in the most appropriate way.

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