Aretha Franklin’s casket makes regal entrance to public viewing

It was an arrival fit for the Queen of Soul.

The body of Aretha Franklin made a regal entrance at a Detroit museum on Tuesday — in a glossy, gold casket that emerged from a white 1941 Lasalle amid a sea of adoring fans.

The massive crowd broke out in cheers as Franklin’s body was taken out of the classic car by a half-dozen white-gloved pallbearers and gingerly wheeled into the Charles H. Wright Museum.

The “Respect” singer’s open casket will be on public display Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Some fans camped out overnight to catch a glimpse of the icon, who died from pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16 at the age of 76, before her family-only funeral on Aug. 31 at the Greater Grace Temple, also in Detroit.

“There will never be another Aretha,” said Melissa Howard, 50, from Austin, Texas, who waited overnight. “She was a community leader who is a staple in our lives.”

For many, the loss felt personal.

“There’s an empty hole for us,” said Cynthia Dailey, 60, who flew in last night from Jacksonville, Fla. “It’s like losing a family member. She meant everything to us.”

Even a funeral worker from Swanson Funeral Home choked up at the mere sight of the crowd.

“I’m a little emotional,” said Brian Darget. “It was beautiful. It’s amazing to see this many fans.”

Detroit resident Mary Eatmon said Franklin’s timeless music spanned all cultures.

“Aretha has done so much for us in her life,” the 87-year-old said. “All we can do is praise her now.”

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