Police in Newark, New Jersey, are bracing themselves for the funeral of Whitney Houston, where thousands of well-wishers are expected to descend on the New Hope Baptist Church on Saturday (February 18, 2012) despite being warned to stay at home. The relatively intimate ceremony is an invitation-only affair, but media teams are already jostling for position at the church and a flurry of fans are also expected to turn-up for a glimpse of the famous attendees, reports the Associated Press.

Newark Police are providing escorts to the celebrities expected to attend, including Oprah Winfrey, Elton John, Bill Cosby, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Bobby Brown, music producer Clive Davis and Kevin Costner. According to the Associated Press, fans have been gathering around the entrance of the church snapping photographs of the makeshift memorial which includes flowers, candles, hand-written signs and balloons. Inside the doors of the building is a large poster of Whitney - smiling, she is wearing a long black evening dress with a pair of gold and black boots. New Jersey governor Chris Christie has already confirmed that state flags will be flown at half-mast on Saturday, though the decision has drawn criticism because of Houston's history of alcohol and drug abuse. Almost 13,000 readers of USA Today weighed in on the subject via an informal poll and 77 per cent said the decision was "inappropriate".

Whitney Houston was found lifeless in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton hotel room last Saturday (February 11, 2012) - she was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.