The life of President George HW Bush was celebrated with high praise and humour as five current and former presidents gathered to bid a final farewell to the World War Two hero and Cold War veteran.
An unusual bipartisan spirit was on display at the service in Washington DC with both Republican and Democratic politicians gathering to honour a president who called for a "kinder, gentler" nation.
The ceremony at Washington National Cathedral, the nexus of state funerals, capped three days of remembrance by dignitaries and members of the public as they honoured the Republican president who oversaw the post-Cold War transition and led a successful Gulf War, only to lose re-election in a generational shift to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.
The death of Mr Bush, who died on Friday aged 94, reduces membership in the ex-presidents’ club to four: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama.
All four were present at the service – along with current President Donald Trump – a sign of the bipartisanship that resonated throughout the service.
They were joined by a great many other members of America’s political establishment, including Mike Pence and Joe Biden, the current and former vice presidents, and members of Mr Trump’s cabinet.
Prince Charles attended to represent the Queen, while Sir John Major, whose premiership overlapped with Mr Bush’s time in office, and Sir Kim Darroch, the UK ambassador to the USA, were also present. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan, and Poland’s president Andrzej Duda were among other foreign dignitaries paying their respects.
A military band played "Hail to the Chief" as the casket of the 41st president was carried down the US Capitol, where it had been lying in state, with members of the Bush family watching and a cannon salute. His son, former President George W Bush, placed his hand over his heart. Military pallbearers carried the casket up the steps to the cathedral.
The hearse had been driven in a motorcade to the Washington National Cathedral ceremony, slowing in front of the White House. Mr Bush’s route was lined with people much of the way, bundled in winter hats and taking photos.
They eulogists, in addition to Mr Bush’s eldest son, were Alan Simpson, the former senator and acerbic wit from Wyoming; Brian Mulroney, the former Canadian prime minister who also gave a eulogy for Ronald Reagan; and presidential historian Jon Meacham.
Also among the invitation-only crowd was Mike Lovejoy, an electrician and handy man who has worked at Mr Bush’s Maine summer estate since 1990. He said he was shocked and heartened to be asked to attend.
George W Bush pays tribute to his father
In an emotional eulogy to his father, Mr Bush said the elder Mr Bush’s legacy would be that of "a great president of the United States, a diplomat of unmatched skill…and a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honour".
"He was born with just two settings: full throttle, then sleep," Mr Bush said.
“In victory he shared credit. When he lost he shouldered the blame. He accepted that failure is part of living a full life, but taught us never to be defined by failure”.
“He loved to laugh, especially at himself. He could tease and needle but never out of malice.”
Describing his father as "not totally perfect", he joked about his shortcomings. "He wasn’t exactly Fred Astaire on the dance floor. The man couldn’t stomach vegetables, especially broccoli. And he passed these genetic defects on to us.”
Mr Bush choked back tears as he praised "the best father a son or daughter can have", adding that the elder Mr Bush now would be reunited with his wife, Barbara, and the daughter, Robin, who they lost aged just three.
Regaining his composure, he patted his father’s flag-draped coffin twice as he went back to his seat at the Washington National Cathedral. Former first lady Laura Bush wiped her eyes with a tissue as her husband sat next to her.
‘Last great soldier-statesman’
Jon Meacham, the presidential historian, described the former president as the "the last great-soldier statesman" in his eulogy. Summed up Mr Bush’s creed, he said: "tell the truth, don’t blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course".
"He made our lives and the lives of nations freer, better, warmer and nobler. That was his mission, that was his heartbeat, and if we listen closely enough we can hear that heartbeat even now. For it’s the heartbeat of a lion, a lion who not only led us but loved us."
Mr Meacham described Mr Bush’s approach to public service after a crash during World War Two, where some people in his plane did not survive. “In a sense the rest of his life was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of his salvation on that distant morning,” he said.
“To him, his life was no longer his own. There were always more missions to undertake, more lives to touch and more love to give.”
Another eulogy was give by Brian Mulroney, Canada’s former Prime minister. “I believe it will be said that no occupant of the Oval Office was more courageous, more principled or more honourable than George Herbert Walker Bush,” Mr Mulroney said.
The president ordered a national day of mourning on Wednesday which saw the federal government close. Flags on public buildings will fly at half-staff for 30 days.
Mr Trump’s relationship with the Bush family has been tense. The current president mocked the elder Bush for his "thousand points of light" call to volunteerism, challenged his son’s legacy as president and trounced "low-energy" Jeb Bush in the Republican presidential primaries en route to office. The late President Bush called Mr Trump a "blowhard."
Those insults have been set aside, but the list of funeral service speakers marked the first time since Lyndon Johnson’s death in 1973 that a sitting president was not tapped to eulogise a late president.
On Tuesday, soldiers, citizens in wheelchairs and long lines of others on foot wound through the Capitol Rotunda to view Mr Bush’s casket and honour a president whose legacy included World War military service and a landmark law affirming the rights of the disabled. Former Senator Bob Dole, a compatriot in war, peace and political struggle, steadied himself out of his wheelchair and saluted his old friend and one-time rival.
After the national funeral service at the cathedral, Mr Bush’s remains returned to Houston, Texas to lie in repose at St Martin’s Episcopal Church. A burial will be held at his family plot alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years who died in April, and Robin Bush, the daughter they lost to leukemia in 1953 at age 3.
As at notable moments in his life, Mr Bush brought together Republicans and Democrats in his death, and not only the VIPs.
Members of the public who never voted for the man waited in the same long lines as the rest, attesting that Mr Bush possessed the dignity and grace that deserved to be remembered by their presence on a cold overcast day in the capital.
Life of President George H.W. Bush, in pictures
The CIA also honoured Mr Bush, the only spy chief to become president, as three agency directors past and present joined the public in the viewing.
In his eulogy on Wednesday Mr Simpson, an old friend, joked about how Mr Bush’s back-tracking on the campaign promise “read my lips: no new taxes” when in office ultimately undermined his chances of re-election, but insisted that it said something of his approach to public life.
“He often said ‘when the really tough choices come, it’s the country, not me. It’s not about Democrats or Republicans, it’s for our country that I fought for’,” Mr Simpson said. “He was a man of such great humility,” Mr Simpson added, noting with a line that drew laughter: “Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington DC are not bothered by heavy traffic.”