Singer George Michael is laid to rest at private funeral

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The singer George Michael has been laid to rest during a private ceremony with his family and close friends.

In a statement released on Wednesday, his family thanked fans from across the world for their messages of love and support.

The former Wham! star died in December last year at the age of 53.

His body was found by his former partner, hairdresser Fadi Fawaz at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day.

Fawaz has faced a wave of criticism since Michael's death, including rumours that he had been banned from attending his former lover's funeral.

He recently denied the reports.

Special tributes have been made to the Careless Whisper singer throughout this year's awards season.

His former bandmate Andrew Ridgeley made an emotional speech at the Brits in February, describing Michael as a "supernova", saying his death "felt like the sky had fallen in".

On the night Fawaz tweeted: "Anyone (who) doubted my love to George will be apologising very soon. It's a fact."

The private funeral for the Faith singer was held on Wednesday, his publicist said.

The statement shared by his family read: "We can confirm that the funeral of the singer George Michael took place today.

"Family and close friends gathered for the small, private ceremony to say goodbye to their beloved Son, Brother and Friend.

"George Michael's family would like to thank his fans across the world for their many messages of love and support."

The news encouraged a fresh outpouring of tributes over social media, with one fan tweeting: "@GeorgeMichael beautiful. I'm still not sure how to live in a world without him.The most beautiful human. I owe him everything."

It followed a heartfelt message posted by fan Toby Bourke, reading: "His legacy will be the millions of hearts across the globe who have at some stage filled with joy at the sound of his voice...That's some legacy to leave."