Sir Cliff Richard said that it seemed "outrageous" that Cilla Black was gone and called her death "just a hiccup in our relationship" as he paid tribute to the singer and TV presenter at her funeral.
Celebrities including Sir Tom Jones, Jimmy Tarbuck and Lord Lloyd-Webber packed into St Mary's Church in the Woolton suburb of Liverpool to say a tearful goodbye to the star who died on August 1.
Fans and mourners also filled the streets to pay tribute to a young woman who found fame in the halcyon days of British pop in the 1960s and went on to become one of the nation's favourite TV presenters.
After her coffin was brought into the church to the strains of Clair de Lune, guests and family members sang the hymn All Things Bright And Beautiful.
And after a greeting from Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool Thomas Williams, Sir Cliff gave the opening speech.
He said: "I can't think of Cilla in the past tense, it just seems outrageous. There are just some people that you always think will be there.
"You forget how much people loved her. She became our greatest TV presenter, possibly of all time."
Praising her talent, Sir Cliff said: "The one thing that hit me originally was that she was a woman of commitment and dedication."
He added: "She had the determination and above all she had the gift - she was able to do what she set out to do."
After drawing laughter from the congregation with an anecdote about her "lovely legs", he said: "My memories of Cilla are going to be very, very happy ones."
And in a message to Cilla herself, he said: "Cilla, this is just a hiccup in our relationship, and we will see you again."
Sir Cliff then performed his song Faithful One to celebrate her life and mourn the passing of one of Britain's best-loved entertainers.