A Service of Thanksgiving
for the life of
1914 – 1999
St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge
This is the same church where Ian Fleming's parents were married in 1906
Monday 27th March 2000 at 2.00 pm
arrived at the church shortly after lunchtime, after dodging the showers and a
hailstorm. Making my way towards a small group of familiar faces, I joined up
with some James Bond fans that, like myself, wished to pay our last respects for
a dearly missed member of the Bond family. Several Policemen were erecting
barriers in preparation for the expected crowds; the mood was quite and
respectful, but not downbeat, we were pleased to be present.
During the next hour, after a few more short downpours, the press arrived and set their stall opposite the fans and other onlookers. A couple of television crews arrived and joined the press. You can always tell a press photographer, he (very rarely she) often come complete with a small stepladder, a large aluminium case full of equipment, an assistant to carry it all from the nearby car, and two large cameras with flashguns hung round their neck.
and friends then started to arrive, some by car, others by foot. They flashed
their tickets at the police and marched into the church. I spotted David Arnold,
Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, then Samantha Bond appeared and stopped to sign
autographs for the fans and then turned to have her picture taken from the wall
of photographers. Some of the guests, who wanted to avoid the press on such an
emotional occasion for them, entered the church through the side entrance.
Amongst them were Dana and Barbara Broccoli.
Family and friends then started to arrive, some by car, others by foot. They flashed their tickets at the police and marched into the church. I spotted David Arnold, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, then Samantha Bond appeared and stopped to sign autographs for the fans and then turned to have her picture taken from the wall of photographers. Some of the guests, who wanted to avoid the press on such an emotional occasion for them, entered the church through the side entrance. Amongst them were Dana and Barbara Broccoli.
Through the arched main entrance came Peter Lamont, and then a car drew up and Roger Moore alighted and helped his partner Christina Tholstrup into the limelight. The press photographers shouted for Roger to look over here, no here, the fans clamoured for his autograph and their own personal picture of the only James Bond actor to be present. Good natured as ever, he slowly made his way towards the church entrance, chatting to the television crews and fans alike, and disappeared inside.
|Roger Moore and Christina Tholstrop arrive at the church|
Shirley Eaton appeared, gladly signing the fans autograph books and posing for the press. Christopher Lee arrived, stopping only briefly for a few photos, saying he would sign autographs later (he did, for nearly 30 minutes). Then a few celebrities appeared, including Simon Williams, Suzanne Dando and Lisa Stansfield, followed by veteran Bond director Lewis Gilbert.
the church bells struck two, I made my own way inside, pausing to pick up an
Order of Service. I found myself an empty pew and quietly took my place in the
beautifully decorated church. The Bidding Prayer was being read by The Reverend
Ben Whitworth, and we then joined in the Lord’s Prayer, followed by a hymn. As
we sat, Samantha Bond walked toward the lectern and read ‘Peace’ by Henry
Vaughan and ‘Crossing the Bar’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Samantha was then
replaced by John Parkinson from EON, who gave an address. He talked with
fondness about Desmond, of how he joined them in 1963 for ‘From Russia With
Love’ and soon became part of the family. He told how Desmond was such a
wonderful ambassador for EON productions, always willing and able to help
promote the films that became such an important part of his life.
hymn was followed by ‘Sospan Fach’ and ‘Ar Hyd y Nos’, sung by The Male
Voice Choir of The Lucknow Band of the Prince of Wales’s Division, resplendent
in their red uniforms.
Roger Moore talked about his time on the Bond films with Desmond, how he used to
get one of the script girl's to re-write Desmond’s ‘Q’ scenes with
pages of new gobbledygook, and the look on his face as he thought he would have
to relearn all his lines. He said he couldn’t imagine a Bond film without
Desmond in it.
Anthem followed, ‘How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings Fair’ (Johannes Brahms) and
then a hymn before Desmond’s proud son’s, Justin and Ivor, gave their
address. Justin said how the family was astounded by the amount of messages on
the Internet and the letters they had received, and were very grateful for them
all. He spoke warmly and with humour about his father, about how he was hopeless
with gadgets at home, driving a video rental man to distraction in trying to
explain how simple it was to operate. He recalled how Desmond had enjoyed the
final year of his life, traveling around the country, signing copies of his
biography. When anyone asked if ‘The World Is Not Enough’ would be his final
appearance as ‘Q’, he would say, “I’ll play ‘Q’ as long as the
producers want me, and the Lord Almighty doesn’t”. Justin said, “Sadly,
the Almighty won out. I just hope he doesn’t want anything repaired!”
spoke about his father’s home life, his long and loving marriage to his wife
of 61 years, Pamela, sadly stricken with Alzheimer’s, and his love for his
screens had been discreetly placed about the congregation, and they now came to
life with images of the life of Desmond Llewelyn, from childhood, through his
time in the army and then the theatre, his first appearance as ‘Q’. Final
pictures with his family and friends around him, all played along to the
incredibly moving ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ by Louis Armstrong.
More than a few tears were shed.
A reading by Brian Duggan was followed by prayers read by the Reverend Neil Dawson and a final hymn. The Blessing, then ‘Sevenfold Amen’ sung by the choir, and we filed out of the church to ‘St. Anne Fugue’ by J.S.Bach.
large figure blocked my exit from the church. Christopher Lee. I edged past him
as the flash of the photographers camera’s alerted me to the fact that Roger
Moore had left before me, so I snuck out the side and joined the press, who had
abandoned their stepladders for a more direct approach. Shirley Eaton also had
her admirers, the press and fans alike. Christopher Lee was still up at the
entrance to the church, surrounded by fans, and being interviewed by a
television crew. He was seemingly trapped there for nearly half an hour before I
was finally able to capture a picture or two as he left.
was past 4pm before we retired to a nearby café to discuss that afternoon’s
moving day, I felt honoured that I had been present on such an
occasion, tinged with regret for the reason that it happened. The man who could
always be relied upon to be present at such an event was missing from this one,
and we were all the poorer for it.
Bless You, Desmond
ã 2000 David Williams
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