Donald Trump will go to Billy Graham’s memorial service on Friday, the White House has affirmed.
The acclaimed evangelist and companion to various presidents passed on ageed 99 in his home in North Carolina a week ago.
Graham’s body will be given the rare honour of lying in state in the US Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday. Only 33 Americans – 11 of whom were presidents – have been honoured in a similar way and only three were private citizens, like Graham. The other two were two Capitol police officers who died in the line of duty, and Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus is credited with sparking the civil rights movement.
All living former presidents have been invited to Graham’s funeral and are thought to be set to attend.
Thousands lined the streets on Saturday as Graham’s coffin was taken from his home in North Carolina mountains to the city of Charlotte where he will be buried. Thousands are expected to pay their respects while he lies in repose both there and in Washington.
On top of that 2,300 guests have been invited to his funeral on Friday which will take place in a large tent and be broadcast around the world. His son Franklin Graham will give the eulogy and his other children will speak briefly to honour their father.
The Queen, who met Graham a number of times and invited him to speak at the Royal chapel, sent a personal message of condolence to the Graham family, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan paid tribute to Graham saying he ‘spread the gospel in 185 countries during his 99 years on Earth, touching the lives of many and forever changing the course of the world’s spiritual health’.
Graham will be buried next to his wife, Ruth, in a prayer garden on the site of the Billy Graham Library. She was buried in 2007 after her death at age 87. His coffin with a wooden cross at the top was made by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola after he preached there in 2005 and asked them to make one for him.