Harris once painted Queen Elizabeth II, worked with The Beatles and hosted a raft of prime-time television shows

London (AFP) - The artist, presenter and musician Rolf Harris, who was one of the UK’s best-loved entertainers before he was convicted of underage-sex crimes in 2014, died earlier this month aged 93, his family said on Tuesday.

The Australian-born Harris’s family said in a statement: “This is to confirm that Rolf Harris died peacefully surrounded by family and friends and has now been laid to rest.

“They ask that you respect their privacy. No further comment will be made.”

His died at his home in Bray, west of London, on May 10 of “metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of neck” and “frailty of old age”, his death certificate, dated May 23, records.

It also says that Harris was cremated, without adding further details.

The secret funeral came after British newspapers reported on May 11 that that a private ambulance with blacked-out windows typically used by undertakers was spotted outside his home.

Harris once painted Queen Elizabeth II, worked with The Beatles and hosted a raft of prime-time television shows in his adopted UK over the course of 60 years.

In October 2022 it was reported that he was “gravely ill” after being diagnosed with neck cancer that had left him unable to speak and requiring round-the-clock care.

Harris lived his final years in disgrace after being found guilty of a string of abuse against young girls between 1969 and 1986.

He was jailed in 2014 for five years and nine months after being convicted of 12 indecent assaults, but was released in 2017, protesting his innocence.

Harris played at the legendary Glastonbury music festival seven times

His conviction came after a spate of allegations of abuse against high-profile entertainers in Britain following the death of the children’s television presenter Jimmy Savile.

Savile, who died in 2011, was found to have used his celebrity status to sexually abuse dozens of children.

His grave in Scarborough, northern England, was dismantled when the allegations against him came to light, and had been vandalised with graffiti.

As well as Harris, the police probe, Operation Yewtree, also saw the conviction of 1970s glam rocker Gary Glitter.

Glitter – real name Paul Gadd – was released from prison earlier this year, halfway through a 16-year sentence for sexually abusing three schoolgirls.

But the 78-year-old rocker was returned behind bars after breaching his release conditions.

- Hero to zero -

Harris broke onto UK television screens in 1953, showcasing his drawing skills honed at the City and Guilds of London Art School in South London.

Harris painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to mark the queen's 80th birthday in 2006

He quickly became one of the country’s best-loved light entertainers.

Generations of children grew up with his art shows, and he presented prime-time programmes watched by millions.

Harris also topped the music charts in the UK and Australia and appeared at the legendary Glastonbury Festival on seven occasions.

He scored a hit with the 1969 single “Two Little Boys”, about two youngsters who grow up to fight in a war together, and performed his song “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” with The Beatles.

His stature was once so great that he was made a CBE in 2006 – one step below a knighthood – and painted Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait to mark her 80th birthday.

The entertainer’s conviction caused widespread shock and soul-searching in Britain.

There was also revulsion and dismay in his homeland Australia – the country he left at the age of 22 but which treated him as a national hero.

He was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame in 2008, but was removed after his conviction.

His CBE was revoked in 2015.