Kate Garraway opens up about Derek's funeral and Elton John's beautiful tribute

16 February 2024, 08:03 | Updated: 16 February 2024, 10:16

Kate Garraway speaks to Smooth
Kate Garraway speaks to Smooth. Picture: Smooth/Global

By Tom Eames

Kate Garraway has spoken about the beautiful send-off for her husband Derek Draper in an emotional new interview.

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Ahead of Kate's return to Smooth Radio on Monday (February 19), she spoke about the highly emotional funeral for her partner Derek, following his death on January 3.

Derek's funeral was attended by many people, including family, friends and former colleagues, including the likes of Sir Elton John and former Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair.

Kate opened up about the day in a new interview with Jenni Falconer, including how Sir Elton performed a beautiful tribute to Derek and his family.

Kate also spoke about the courage and strength of her children Darcey and Billy, with Darcey acting as one of the pallbearers and Billy giving a speech.

She said: "I said, 'now there might be an opportunity to speak', And Bill said, 'I'll definitely speak on behalf of the family'. And I was like, 'okay'. And I said, 'do you want me to help you write something?', because it's quite daunting, isn't it? And he said, 'no I'm definitely going to do it. It's my dad, I'm going to do it.'

"And then as it got closer, closer, I was thinking, 'crikey', but he did, and he wouldn't let me see it, which was quite good for a control freak mother that I didn't force him to. And then Darcey said she might want to speak, but she didn't know if she could do it, and that was fine. And then she suddenly said, 'would I be allowed to carry the coffin?'

Kate Garraway, with her husband Derek Draper and her parents Gordon and Marilyn Garraway, after being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire
Kate Garraway, with her husband Derek Draper and her parents Gordon and Marilyn Garraway, after being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Picture: Getty

"And I thought, 'crikey, it's a heavy thing to do, Darce. And she's like, 'I can definitely do it'. And unbelievably she did, which is amazing. She said, 'I think dad would want me to'. And quite a sort of nice symbolic thing, I think that she felt that she was able to. I didn't feel I had the strength to. I felt very wobbly. But she said, 'no, I want to demonstrate that spirit, because she keeps on saying, he's living on through us'. And it was a lovely thing to do."

Elton John - who had grown close to Kate during Derek's illness - attended the funeral with husband David Furnish, and performed the song 'Skyline Pigeon'. The song appeared on his debut album in 1969, and describe the feeling of breaking free from a metaphorical cage.

Kate Garraway speaks to Smooth
Kate Garraway speaks to Smooth. Picture: Smooth/Global
Kate Garraway
Kate Garraway. Picture: Smooth/Global/Matt Crossick

Describing Elton's tribute as "extraordinary and beautiful", Kate said: "He, I think, has felt from the very earliest days, very, very connected because Derek was ill. He had a friend that was ill. And through that kind of six degrees of separation, they were in intensive care at the same time. One in America, one here in the UK, Derek.

"And so in that time, when there was sort of a search for knowledge, he ended up offering to get in touch via other things. And so it's been connected. And he felt, therefore, it was lovely that he was there and it was lovely that he sang and it was a lovely gift, really, actually.

"There were lots of Elton John music I played to Derek in the coma and that we've played together when he's been well, and that wasn't one of them. And I think that was particularly lovely because the words are so beautiful.

"It's beautiful. I played it with his sisters beforehand and they were in tears. I mean, really unexpected and really lovely and kind of very private, I think, and a very private thing because he is obviously the greatest showman. But it was a very private, sort of lovely thing, which was very kind. Very kind."

Kate also opened up about how Derek's funeral location was the same place where they first met and later got married.

"Gloria De Piero, who used to work at GMTV with me, knew Derek from years ago, when they were both in politics, and she set up a random blind date. Didn't actually tell me. So we'd briefly met at a group of friends for drinks. He rang up and said, 'I'd like to take you out on a date'. Marvellous.

"I thought by this point, I'd heard lots of stories about him holding court in the Groucho club. And I thought, 'this is going to be glamorous'. Had a full blow dry fake tan, got myself sorted, and then he cancelled on me 45 minutes before and said, 'I'm so sorry, I've completely mucked up, I have forgotten that I'm serving cheese and wine at my local church's amateur watercolour exhibition'.

Kate and Derek in 2007
Kate and Derek in 2007. Picture: Getty

"I was like, I mean, this has got to be a wind up. So I thought, is this a test? What is it? And he said, 'you could come if you wanted'. So I said, 'okay, I will', thinking, I'll get there, there'll be a helicopter to fly to Paris or there'll be, I don't know, a car to go to a luxury restaurant or something.

"No, he was there serving cheese and wine to elderly amateur group. So we ended up having this strange first date, which is lovely, actually, because it was totally different from some of the stories I'd heard about him from before. I didn't know him before and he's in politics, but it was another side to him, so it set it off on a course.

"So, first date, got married, and then final celebration, goodbye."

Kate Garraway returns to Smooth Radio at 10am on Monday, February 19.

Our charity, Global’s Make Some Noise, works with small, local charities to make sure nobody is left facing life’s toughest challenges alone. Small charities including those who support incredible young carers. Find out more at makesomenoise.com.