[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 12 June, 2004, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
Private burial for Ronald Reagan
Nancy Reagan (centre) is joined by sons Ron (left), Michael (second right) daughter Patti Davis as she kisses the coffin bearing her husband
Nancy Reagan broke down in tears as she whispered a final farewell
Family, friends and dignitaries have bid farewell to former US President Ronald Reagan at an emotionally charged burial service in California.

The ceremony took place in the grounds of Reagan's library in Simi Valley, where he had chosen to be buried.

About 720 of Reagan's family and friends, including former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, attended the service.

A national funeral was held earlier in Washington's National Cathedral.

After the Washington funeral, the flag-draped casket, accompanied by Reagan's widow, Nancy, was flown aboard a presidential jet to Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California.

He is home now, he is free
Ronald Reagan's son
Ron Reagan

A Marine artillery battery fired a 21-gun salute as the casket was being transferred to a hearse.

The motorcade then proceeded to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, with crowds lining up along the 40-kilometre (25-mile) route.

As the casket lay on a plinth outside the crypt, US Navy F-18 jets flew overhead in a missing man formation.

During the ceremony, Reagan's son Ron said that after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for a decade, his father was now at peace.

"He is home now, he is free. In his final letter to the American people dad wrote 'I now beginning the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.' This evening he has arrived," Ron Reagan said.

After the flag that had draped the casket all week was handed to Nancy, she slowly approached the coffin.

First she rubbed the casket, then gently lay her cheek on it.

She stood up briefly before breaking down rubbing the casket ever quicker whispering a final goodbye to her husband.

Her children quickly came to her side, privately consoling each other in front of a global audience.

Reagan's body was interred in the crypt shortly before 1500 local time (1000 GMT), near a piece of the Berlin Wall.

'Great president'

The ceremony - full of ritual and pageantry - marked the end of a week of nationwide mourning for the 40th US President, the BBC's Michael Buchanan in Simi Valley reports.

Earlier on Friday in Washington, mourners heard eulogies from US and world leaders, including former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Michael Reagan, adopted son of former President Ronald Reagan speaks during the internment ceremony
Relatives and guests saluted the former president for the last time

President George W Bush said Reagan was an "enduring symbol" of the US.

Mr Bush's four surviving predecessors attended the funeral, as did leading figures from abroad.

In a eulogy delivered on videotape because of her frail health, Baroness Thatcher said: "We have lost a great president, a great American and a great man, and I have lost a dear friend."

She hailed his role in ending communism in eastern Europe, saying: "He won the Cold War not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends."

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney told the mourners: "Ronald Reagan does not enter history tentatively, he does so with certainty and panache... His were not the pallid etchings of a timorous president, they were the bold strokes of an accomplished leader."

Former President George Bush senior was almost overcome by emotion as he paid homage to his predecessor, saying: "As his vice-president for eight years, I learned more from Ronald Reagan than anyone I encountered in my years of public life."

He was followed by his son, the current President Bush, who said of Reagan: "He was optimistic that liberty would thrive wherever it was planted and he acted to defend liberty wherever it was threatened... Through his love of our country, he became an enduring symbol of our country."

Tight security

Reagan's body arrived at the National Cathedral by motorcade from the Capitol, where thousands of people had queued over two days to pay their respects as he laid in state.

A military band played Hail To The Chief as his flag-draped coffin was carried up the cathedral steps.

The funeral took place on a national day of mourning for the former president, with most government departments and financial markets closing as a mark of respect.

It was held amid tight security because of fears of a terrorist attack. All police leave was cancelled and there were extensive traffic restrictions on the ground and in the air above the cathedral.

President George W Bush
Surviving former US presidents - George Bush senior, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
South African President Thabo Mbeki
Afghan President Hamid Karzai

The four surviving former US presidents - George Bush senior, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford - were among the guests at the funeral.

Russia was represented by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was in power for much of the Reagan era.

Other guests included UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, South African President Thabo Mbeki and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Reagan died in California on Saturday at the age of 93, following a 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Washington has not staged an event on this scale since the funeral of President Lyndon Johnson in 1973.

1. 1430 GMT: Coffin leaves Washington's US Capitol
2. 1530: Funeral service at Washington National Cathedral
3. 1745: Motorcade leaves cathedral and proceeds to Andrews Air Force base, where a departure ceremony is held
4. 2345: Aircraft arrives in California, remains transported to Reagan Library, Simi Valley, for private internment service and burial

The BBC's David Willis
"Ronald Reagan's body was laid to rest on a hillside overlooking the ocean"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific