Friends and family paid tribute to the Right Honourable Earl Grey at Golders Green Crematorium today.

Richard Grey, the sixth Earl Grey, died after a short illness on September 10 at the age of 74.

He was President of the Cremation Society and Chairman of the London Cremation Company based in Hoop Lane, Golders Green.

He also studied quantity surveying, had a career as a full-time Liberal member of the House of Lords from 1976 and was the party's spokesman on social services.

In 1992 the board of the London Cremation Company invited him to be its chairman and shortly afterwards he was asked to be president of the Cremation Society of Great Britain.

The chairman of the Cremation Society, Harvey Thomas, said: “I have known Richard and his wife Stephanie for more than 20 years. Richard had a great, dry sense of humour.

“He also had a great ability to laugh at himself, which is a huge talent in today’s world. If we could laugh at ourselves the way he used to do there would be a lot less trouble in the world.

“We’ll always remember Richard under two headings – as a nice man and as a gentleman.

“He made the world a happier place - you always felt happier when you came off the phone to him.”

Paying tribute, Lord Grey’s stepson William Grey said: “He was a man I’m proud to call my father. Thanks Richard for everything – your kind words and never ceasing help.”

Friends and work colleagues from across the world also paid their respects through letters read out at today’s service.

The title, Earl Grey, was created in 1806 for General Grey. The second Earl Grey, who gave his name to Earl Grey Tea, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1830 to 1834.

Lord Grey succeeded to the title on 1963. Among many other duties, he was an official observer of the elections in Zimbabwe in 1979 and Secretary to the House of Lords Small Business Group from 1980 to 1984.

In 1979 he also hosted the visit to London of 350 Canadian Indians to help them lobby Parliament for the return of their land rights and for political recognition.