Jacintha Saldanha laid to rest, but family's hunt for answers goes on

Hundreds attend funeral at village where nurse who took her own life grew up

Shirva

First came a man bearing a simple wooden cross, then a brass band playing dirges. A little way behind them, an ambulance followed carrying the coffin of Jacintha Saldanha as it made one last journey.

The 46-year-old nurse was buried yesterday afternoon in a graveyard in the village of Shirva, lowered into the hard, red earth while her husband, Benedict Barboza, and two children stood hugging each other for support. Purple and white flowers were thrown at the coffin and hundreds of people who had pressed together around the graveside, surrounded by coconut trees, sang hymns and recited prayers.

Afterwards, asked whether he had given any thought to how he and his children might start to try and rebuild their lives when they returned to Britain, Mr Barboza said he could not yet think of that. "I am still at the graveside," he replied.

Mr Barboza, with his teenage children Junal and Lisha, had accompanied Jacintha's coffin as it was flown from London to Mumbai, and then to the coastal town of Mangalore in the state of Karnataka on Sunday afternoon. They had come to bury the wife and mother and also to continue to press for answers, for anything that could further throw light on the circumstances surrounding her death.

Jacintha, who had grown up and completed her nursing training in Mangalore, took her life after receiving a now-notorious call at King Edward VII hospital, where she worked, from two Australian DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles. Believing the call to be genuine, Jacintha transferred the call to another nurse who provided information about the condition of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, who was being treated for severe morning sickness. Two days later she was found hanged in her room in the nurse's accommodation complex.

During a memorial service in the high-vaulted Our Lady of Health Church in Shirva, overseen by the Catholic Bishop of Udupi, Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo, more than a 1,000 people packed in to hear prayers, sing hymns and listen to brief eulogies about the woman who died in an "unfortunate incident".

"Jacintha Saldanha spent her entire life looking after people who were sick and today it is our turn to show our appreciation of her work and her life," said Dr Lobo. He added: "Jacintha was a good mother, good wife and understood the pain of people."

He said the nurse had been "popular among her colleagues" and dedicated to her work at the Edward VII Hospital.

Earlier in the day hundreds of villagers had made their way along a twisting track to Mr Barboza's family home to pay their last respects to Jacintha, whose casket was covered by a glass panel through which her face could be seen. Flowers had been hung in the room, candles had been lit and women sang.

"I would not say I am a close friend, but I am from the village and I have come to pay my respects," said Victor Sequieria, a retired member of the merchant navy, who like many in this part of southern India had been obliged to move away to find a living. "The village is very sad. Whenever someone goes, it is sad."

Outside, propped against the wall of the house, was the lid of the coffin. It bore a plaque that read: "Royal Nurse Jacintha Saldanha. RIP."

After the funeral service, to which Jacintha's mother, Carmine, was pushed on a wheelchair, Mr Barboza, accompanied by his son and some friends from Britain and Mumbai, read a statement and answered some questions.

They said they had not yet taken a decision on whether to pursue legal action against the King Edward VII hospital in London where Jacintha had worked for more than four years, splitting her time between the hospital and the family home in Bristol.

Neither did they know whether they would sue the Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian, or their radio station 2DayFM. The DJs have apologised for the prank call in a series of interviews on Australian television, saying they had not expected their call to be put through. But the family say they have not received any apology from them. The show was taken off the air and the DJs have been suspended. They have since gone into hiding after receiving death threats.

"The incident is being investigated and they have assured us a full and fair investigation," said a family friend, Steven Almeida, describing the inquiry that is under way by Scotland Yard.

Mr Barboza looked overcome with grief and bewilderment. He apologised for being unable to provide any more answers and said: "I am exhausted."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen