MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE — Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, was remembered as a loving mother and a “old soul” who endured tragedy but persevered as a dedicated protector of her father’s legacy as a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer and pop icon during a funeral service on Sunday.
More than a thousand people gathered on Graceland’s front lawn on a grey, chilly Memphis morning to mourn and remember Lisa Marie Presley, who died Jan. 12 after being taken to a hospital in California.
Some mourners held flowers as they waited for the service to begin on the lawn of Graceland, the Memphis home where Lisa Marie grew up with her father. The mansion, which Lisa Marie Presley owned, has been turned into a museum and tourist attraction that attracts hundreds of thousands of fans each year to commemorate Elvis Presley’s life and music, who died in 1977 at the age of 42.
On Sunday, the property in south Memphis was a place of sadness and sombre memories. The service began with “Amazing Grace” by Jason Clark and The Tennessee Mass Choir.
“We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the love, compassion, and support you have shown our family during this difficult time,” the Presley family said in a message written on the service programme. “We will be eternally grateful.”
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie’s mother, spoke during the service, as did Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York; Jerry Schilling, a close friend of Elvis and Lisa Presley’s onetime manager; and former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, who described Lisa Marie’s parents as Memphis’ royal couple and a “conduit to the throne, the keeper of the flame.”
Priscilla Presley read a poem titled “The Old Soul” by one of Lisa Marie’s three daughters, Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood, in which she describes her mother as “an icon, a role model, a superhero to many people all over the world.”
“She came into our world in 1968, tired, fragile, but strong. “She was delicate, but she was alive,” Priscilla Presley read. “She was always aware that she wouldn’t be here for long. Childhood fades away as she catches a glimpse of her green eye. She then started her own family.”
“Our heart is broken,” Priscilla Presley said after reading the poem. We all adore you, Lisa.”
The service was interspersed with music. The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan played acoustic guitar and sang “To Sheila”; Alanis Morissette sang “Rest”; Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose played piano and sang “November Rain,” and The Blackwood Brothers Quartet, one of gospel music’s pioneering groups, performed two songs.
Mourners walked through Graceland’s Meditation Garden after the service, where Presley was laid to rest in an above-ground grave alongside her son Benjamin Keough, who died in 2020, as well as her grandparents and great-grandmother.
Wreaths and bouquets of red, white, yellow, and pink flowers lined the path leading up to the gravesite and tomb. Fans walked slowly by the tomb, some teary-eyed, pausing to pay their respects.
Jordan Clark, 25, came all the way from Mobile, Alabama, to attend the memorial service. She described the ceremony as unique and heartwarming. Lisa Marie “went through a lot” in her life, according to Clark, who compared the service to the time when Elvis died, when “people came from all over.”
“She was born into the spotlight, born into celebrity. “That’s difficult for some people,” Clark said. “She handled it with grace. “I believe.”
Lisa Marie was nine years old when her father died. She was staying at Graceland at the time and remembered him kissing her goodbye for the final time.
After her father died, she became the sole heir of the Elvis Presley Trust, which managed Graceland and other assets alongside Elvis Presley Enterprises until she sold her majority stake in 2005. She kept ownership of the mansion, the 13 acres surrounding it, and the contents of the house.
The Associated Press was told by an Elvis Presley Enterprises representative that the mansion is in a trust for the benefit of her children. She is survived by two other daughters, Riley Keough and Finley Aaron Love Lockwood, in addition to Harper.
Riley Keough, an actor, did not speak during the memorial service. Ben Smith-Petersen, her husband, read a statement in which Keough recalls her mother taking her out for ice cream, bringing her Cracker Barrel tea sets, and leaving notes in her lunchbox.
“Thank you for giving me strength, heart, empathy, courage, sense of humour, manners, temper, wildness, and tenacity,” Riley Keough said in a statement. “I am the result of your heart.”