Chilling picture of Whitney Houston dead in her coffin published in National Enquirer
Twitter backlash against tabloid for publishing controversial imageSinger pictured wearing regal purple dress and diamond jewels
A photograph apparently showing Whitney Houston in an open coffin has been published on the cover of the National Enquirer.
chilling picture shows the singer lying dead in her golden casket, clad
in a regal purple dress and wearing what looks like a diamond brooch
The weekly American magazine has run the snap alongside a bold headline proclaiming: 'Whitney: The last photo!'
Controversial: The National Enquirer has
published a photograph on the cover of today issue, apparently showing
Whitney Houston dead in her coffin
Icon: Houston, pictured in February last year in LA
It is understood the photograph was taken inside the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey, where her family attended a private wake last Friday on the eve of her funeral.
The magazine claims the photo was taken at the private viewing – although does not reveal who took the picture.
Carolyn Whigham, the owner of the Whigham
Funeral Home, told MailOnline when asked for a comment: 'I have spoken
with the family about this and they have asked me not to comment on the
Whitney – who died aged 48 on February 11 – was wearing jewels worth $500,000 and had gold slippers on her feet, according to the publication.
The image – which was published in today's edition – has stirred a strong reaction on Twitter, with people expressing their shock.
'#wrong #rip,' wrote one Twitter user named as The Bitter Critter.
Another user of the social networking site, Eric S Pittman, simply exclaimed 'Oh dear' while tweeter Peter Anthony Holder wrote: 'No privacy for Whitney, even in death. As usual, the National Enquirer is a piece of work.'
The singer's funeral took place on Saturday and was attended by stars including Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey and her co-star from The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner.
The star's on-off boyfriend Ray J was also in attendance.
Houston was laid to rest the following day in a burial service attended by close family and friends.
She was found dead in the bathtub of her fourth-floor hotel suite at the Beverly Hilton hotel on the eve of the Grammy Awards.
Send off: Pallbearers carry the casket out of the New Hope Baptist Church on Saturday after the singer's funeral
Mourning her loss: Whitney's coffin is carried out of the church, as her mother Cissy walked behind
The official cause of death is yet to be revealed, pending the release of toxicology reports – which could still be several weeks off.
However, there has been speculation that the troubled star – who endured a long battle with drugs – died as a result of a deadly concoction of prescriptions drugs and alcohol.
Yesterday, RadarOnline reported Whitney had a mixture of Valium, Xanax and alcohol in her system when she was found at the Beverly Hilton.
Shock: People have taken to Twitter to express their dismay at the magazine publishing the photo
'Whitney had taken Valium, Xanax, and alcohol, which led to her death,' a source close to the situation told the website.
'The coroner is waiting on final
toxicology results to determine which one of the three was the major
contributing factor of her demise.'
The insider went on: 'The coroner will
be closely examining Whitney's blood alcohol content at the time she
died as well. The sedatives and alcohol will almost certainly be the
cause of death, and not drowning.
Troubled: Whitney's daughter Bobbi Kristina pictured arriving for the wake last Friday
'Her heart stopped beating because her
respiratory system was suppressed because of the anti-anxiety meds, and
combined with the booze it probably happened very quickly before she
was found partially submerged in the bathtub.'
Meanwhile, Whitney's daughter Bobbi-Kristina is said to be struggling to cope in the wake of her mother's death.
Radar reported yesterday the 18-year-old was 'wasted' and appeared 'disconnected' at Sunday's burial – claims which were later vehemently denied by a representative for the Houston Estate.
Her family – including father Bobby Brown – are also apparently keen for the teenager to go to rehab to seek treatment for her own alleged issues with alcohol and drugs.
A source told the website: 'Krissy has taken her mother’s death
really hard, not surprisingly, and Bobby is terrified she’s going to do
'He wants her in a treatment centre, getting
professional help to get her through the grieving process without
falling back on alcohol or drugs to mask her pain.'
The Enquirer published a post-mortem photo of John Lennon on its cover back in 1980 and also one of Elvis in his coffin in 1977.
Feeling better Aretha Franklin who cancelled her performance at Whitney's wake was seen out and about in New York on Wednesday