Indian town of Shirva stages funeral of nurse who transferred call from DJs at hospital treating Duchess of Cambridge
Hundreds of mourners have gathered in a small town in India for the funeral of the nurse who was found dead after she answered a prank call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for morning sickness.
Friends and family paid their respects to Jacintha Saldanha, 46, during a simple ceremony in Shirva, some 30 miles north of Mangalore, on the south-west coast.
Earlier, crowds lined the roads close to the Catholic church to pay their respects while relatives attended a private prayer ceremony at her home.
Saldanha, a mother of two, was found hanged in her quarters at King Edward VII’s hospital in London by a colleague and a security guard on 7 December.
Three days earlier, she transferred a call from two Australian DJs to a colleague, who described in detail the duchess’s condition during her hospital stay. She put the call through in the belief that the callers were the Queen and Prince of Wales.
Her children, Junal, 16, and Lisha, 14, have described the “unfillable void” left in their lives by their mother’s death.
During a mass at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday her husband, Benedict Barboza, fought back tears as he paid an emotional tribute to his wife, telling mourners: “I feel a part of me has been ripped out.”
On Monday, he accompanied a coffin carrying her body into Our Lady of Health church after travelling back to the family’s home town for the funeral.
The authorities in India are understood to have made extensive arrangements, including raising security and setting up barricades, to accommodate crowds of mourners touched by Saldanha’s death.
Father Richard Rego, a Jesuit priest who has worked in the region for over a decade, said the close-knit town was in shock. “The local community were jolted,” he said. “They are now coming together to support the family.”
Barboza is understood to be spending Christmas with his family in Shirva as he comes to terms with his wife’s death.
Standing outside the cathedral last week, he said the family “could not have foreseen the unprecedented tragedy that has unfolded in our lives”, and thanked the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the prime minister, David Cameron, for their condolences.
“The events of the last week have shattered our lives,” he said. “We barely have the strength to withstand the grief and sorrow.”
Saldanha left two notes in her room, and had marks on her wrist when her body was discovered, Westminster coroners court in London heard on Thursday.
John Lofthouse, the chief executive at King Edward VII’s hospital, said the nurse had been reassured on a number of occasions by senior management after the hoax call. But she was found dead soon afterwards.
Memorial services have been held at the hospital and in Bristol, where her husband and children live.
The DJs behind the call, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, have also spoken of their grief.
Interviewed on Australian TV networks, the presenters said their prank call to the hospital had prompted “a tragic turn of events no one could have predicted or expected”.
Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the parent company of 2Day FM, has ended the pair’s Hot 30 show and suspended prank calls across the company.