23 MARCH 2009

In life Natasha Richardson often felt overshadowed by her famous relatives. Yet, there was no doubt of the adoration and respect in which she was held as friends and family laid the screen beauty to rest in a private service close to her home in upstate New York.

Her Irish husband Liam Neeson put on a brave face as he was comforted by scores of well-known friends. Among them were Uma Thurman, Ralph Fiennes, Holly Hunter and Timothy Dalton.

Many of the mourners had earlier attended a wake at the Irish American society, before the actress' body was moved to the couple's farmhouse in Millbrook, about 80 miles north of New York city in preparation for Sunday's service.

Their arms linked for mutual support, Natasha's mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and Nip/Tuck actress sister Joely Richardson also joined the congregation at the tiny, white clapboard church of St Peter's. The couple's sons, Michael, 13, and 12-year-old Daniel, attended too.

Dressed in a dark suit and sunglasses, Liam briefly rested a hand on his wife's coffin, which was draped in a cloth bearing a claddagh design, the Irish symbol signifying love, friendship and loyalty. He then helped pallbearers carry it into the church.

Natasha's final resting place is opposite the grave of her maternal grandmother, who passed away while visiting Natasha and Liam in 2003.

The Tony award-winning actress was just 45 when she died after hitting her head in a fall during a skiing lesson in Canada last week.

Photo: Getty Images
Natasha Richardson's family unite in grief for the luminous stage and screen star, who died last Wednesday. Her sons (boys in the centre) and husband managed a brave smile for the cameras
Photo: Getty Images
Liam consoles his mother-in-law, actress Vanessa Redgrave
Photo: Getty Images
Uma Thurman and her fiancé Arpad Busson also attended a wake for Natasha earlier in the weekend