Daniel Auclair/Trustar REUTERS
René Angélil, Céline Dion's husband of 21 years and the father of their three children, was honored at a funeral Friday in Montreal, at a church where the couple had wed.
Their eldest son, René-Charles, who turns 15 next week, gave a touching speech honoring his dad. Dion herself did not speak but her songs were played during the service. Hundreds of people packed the multi-story Notre-Dame Basilica at Angélil's funeral, which was livestreamed, while hundreds of supporters gathered outside.
Angélil, a former singer who served as his Grammy-winning wife's manager, died on Jan. 14 at age 73 after battling throat cancer. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1998.
Wearing a black dress and matching veil over her face, Celine, 47, led her and Angélil's 5-year-old twin sons Eddy and Nelson down the aisle of the church, accompanied by René-Charles, her mother and Angélil's three other children from previous marriages. The family took a seat at the front, right near where his black casket was displayed, along with an elegant stand bearing a container of white calla lilies.
"Fifteen years is not a long time for a son to get to know his father," René-Charles told the crowd, saying the two bonded over activities such as golf and hockey and their love of smoked meat, which drew a laugh from his mother.
"And a lot of other wonderful food, bonding more and more as time went by," he added. "You left me now with enough good memories of you to share with my younger brothers. As they grow older without you being around, I'll make sure to pass on what I've learned from you. You are a tough act to follow but with our help everything is going to be fine. Dad, I promise you here that we're all going to live up to your standards."
A tearful Dion hugged and kissed her son on the cheek after he finished speaking. The two placed flowers and a pillow on top of Angélil's casket.