Hundreds of people lined up in the cold outside a church in Montreal on Thursday to pay their respects to René Angélil, the late husband of Celine Dion. The music manager's funeral service will be held on Friday at the Notre-Dame Basilica, where the couple were married in 1994, and mourners joined the singer and her family ahead of the ceremony to honour the 73-year-old at his public wake.
Celine, 47, was joined by the couple's eldest child, 14-year-old René Charles, and her mother Therese inside the church – sadly both women are also mourning the death of Celine's brother Daniel, who died just days after Rene lost his battle with cancer.
Celine Dion was supported by her son René Charles at the public wake
Dressed in black, with her hair in a bun and wearing a black veil, Celine bravely received condolences and well wishes from relatives and friends as fans filed past Rene's open coffin.
René will receive a national funeral – an honour which is reserved for Quebecers who have made a significant contribution to the arts – which will take place at 3pm on Friday at the Basilica. Flags will also been flown at half-mast as a mark of respect.
As per Celine's Facebook page, the ceremony will be live streamed so that "from anywhere across the globe, it will be possible to follow René Angélil’s state funeral" – the message was posted in both English and French.
The scene outside the Notre-Dame Basilica on Thursday
René is survived by Celine and their three children, René Charles and five-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy, as well as his adult children from two previous marriages, Anne-Marie, Patrick and Jean-Pierre.
René passed away on 14 January after a "long and courageous battle against cancer". In a heartfelt Facebook tribute to her husband and longtime manager, heartbroken Celine said: "He will be remembered as a gentle man, generous and kind, an unprecedented visionary, a modern Pygmalion, a Renaissance man.
"All who had the privilege of knowing him and of working closely with him, whether personally or professionally, salute a leader and a man of great intelligence and wisdom."