Paul O'Grady's best friend shares late star's last wish for funeral

7 April 2023, 14:57 | Updated: 7 April 2023, 15:03

Actress Amanda Mealing shared the late star's dying wish for those attending his funeral.
Actress Amanda Mealing shared the late star's dying wish for those attending his funeral. Picture: Instagram

Paul O'Grady's best friend Amanda Mealing revealed the comic wanted people to celebrate his life.

Paul O'Grady's best friend has opened up about the late star's final wish for his funeral.

The TV legend, who passed away "unexpectedly but peacefully" last week aged 67, told his close pal Amanda Mealing how he wanted to be remembered following his death.

The former Casualty actress, 55, revealed the beloved entertainer hoped people attending his wake would celebrate rather than mourn on the day he was laid to rest.

Sharing his final thoughts with the Mirror, she said: "He just told us to have a good time. He’d hate it if everyone was morose."

Paul O'Grady was godfather to Amanda Mealing's two sons, Milo and Otis.
Paul O'Grady was godfather to Amanda Mealing's two sons, Milo and Otis. Picture: Getty

She continued: "Whatever happens, Paul’s funeral will be a celebration of his life and it will be full of laughter.

"He just told us to have a good time – he’d hate it if everyone was mawkish and morose. He would just say, 'I don’t care, I won’t be here! Do whatever you want'."

The British soap star, who shared a 35-year friendship with the iconic drag queen, explained there was likely to be more than one send-off for Paul.

She continued: "There may be two funerals.

"A small private one and a big one in a very grand place for those outside the family. I would think it’ll be in London.

"Then everyone can come to that and it gives people a chance to fly in. There are ongoing conversations.

"We’ve also been asking: ‘Can we do something in Liverpool?’ because obviously they very much feel he’s their baby. It’s so difficult."

Amanda also shared the moment she learned of her dear friend's death.

Paul's husband Andre Portasio sent her an emotional text informing her of the news in the early hours of Wednesday morning, just hours after his passing on Tuesday night.

She said: "Andre sent me a text at 1am. I woke up to it. I was just numb. I just couldn’t comprehend what the text had said.

"I just couldn’t understand it. As soon as I got myself together I went down to the house."

Speaking of her shock and grief in the days that followed, Amanda added: "Over the last few days, we’ve started conversations crying and end up laughing with tears just remembering ridiculous stories!

“On the first day we were all just wandering around numb and then yesterday I spent the entire day doing flower arrangements.

"There were so many flowers and gifts from people. Someone sent a video of a really beautiful send-off at the Vauxhall Tavern. The thing that got us all was that instead of a moment’s silence, they had a moment’s cheer and that just set us all off. It was such a lovely thing. It just captures you.

"You think you’re okay and then something like that just gets you."

Sharing that the public's reaction brought her comfort in those dark moments, she continued: "It was such a lovely gesture to hear all this noise for him. It’s been an enormous comfort to know he was so loved.

"And for a kid from Birkenhead to have the Queen Consort send a message of condolence... speaks volumes. They had a great bond, but the thing about Savage was that he treated everyone the same, whether you were related to the Queen or a builder. It didn’t matter to him."

Amanda, who chose Paul as the godfather to her two sons Milo and Otis, admitted she was heartbroken to lose her closest friend but believes he "absolutely rinsed his life".

"He got absolutely everything he could out of it and that is wonderful."

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