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Richard Burton’s favourite poem was read at Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral – a death wish of the late Hollywood superstar.

At Taylor’s insistence, actor, Gerard Manley Hopkins’ The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo was read out.

It was the favourite poem of Burton, who twice married and twice divorced Taylor.

Read by actor Colin Farrell, it was reflective of the hold Burton had over the actress.

Taylor died last week of congestive heart failure at LA’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital, aged 79.

A source said: “Liz always loved Richard and if they couldn’t be buried together, this was the next best thing. It was a fitting tribute to the pair of them.”

Burton recited the poem, about beauty fading over time, in his 1978 movie Absolution in a scene that was completely improvised.

At the touching service, Farrell read: “Nothing can be done/To keep at bay/Age and age’s evils.” Another line demands: “Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.”

And Liz was a Hollywood diva to the very end – after demanding the ceremony should begin 15 minutes after its 2pm start.

As friends and family waited for the service to begin at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, near LA, an official said: “She even wanted to be late for her own funeral.”

Liz and Burton fell in love while making 1963 film Cleopatra, despite both being married. They wed 12 months later but divorced in 1974, then remarried less than a year later, before splitting up after just 11 months. Burton died in 1984.

Five black stretch limos took Taylor’s family to and from the cemetery, also the final resting place of her close friend, Michael Jackson. The service was attended by about 40 mourners.

Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was yesterday adorned with flowers, photographs and notes from grieving fans.


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