4 January 2020

Funeral service for Ari Behn

Norway took yesterday farewell with the author and artist Ari Behn, who died on Christmas Day, 47 years old. The funeral service took place at Oslo domkirke (Oslo Cathedral). Behn's family had chosen the large cathedral because so many friends wanted to attend. About 600 seats were made available for the public.

King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Haakon, Princess Märtha Louise and her daughters Maud Angelica, Leah Isadora and Emma Tallulah Behn were present together with Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner. Crown Princess Mette-Marit's son Marius Borg Høiby and his live-in partner as well as the Crown Princess's mother Marit Tjessem also attended. From Sweden came Prince Daniel, while another friend of Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn, Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, also attended.

The Bjørshol and Behn families, Behn's girlfriend Ebba and her mother and many, many friends were present for the service. From the official Norway came Storting president Tone Wilhelmsen Trøen, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Toril Marie Øie  Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Minister of Finance Siv Jensen, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Sylvia Listhaug, Minister of Culture Trine Skei Grande and Minister of Children and Families Kjell Ingolf Ropstad. Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre and former Prime Minister and now Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, were also present.

The service was officiated by the Bishop of Oslo, Kari Veiteberg. Her speech (in Norwegian) can be read here. Eulogies were delivered by Ari Behn's parents Marianne Solberg Behn and Olav Bjørshol, Behn's siblings as well as his eldest daughter Maud Angelica. Bible texts were read by vicar Elisabeth Thorsen and the actors Kåre Conradi and Dennis Storhøi. Conradi was a good friend of Behn and was his best man at the royal wedding in 2002. Music was provided by Oslo Cathedral organist Kåre Nordstoga and the Oslo Cathedral Choir. Sigvart Dagsland performed «Alt eg såg» («Everything I Saw») while the violinist Mari Samuelsen played Ennio Morricone’s «Gabriel’s Oboe». Pall-bearers were Ari Behn’s father Olav Bjørshol, brother Espen Bjørshol Solberg, brother-in-law Christian Udnæs, Crown Prince Haakon, and nephews Ask and Isak Rafael Bjørshol.

It was a very moving service and the eulogies were almost unbearable to listen to. Maud Angelica's speech was strong and inpressive and will be remembered for a long time. She shared good memories about her father, but also appealed to everyone who struggled in their lives to seek help: «There is always a way out. Even if it doesn’t feel that way. There are people out there who can and will help. Ask for help. Asking shows strength, not weakness.»

Outside the cathedral the families and closest friends waited while the car carrying the casket drove away.  Information about Behn's last resting place has as far as I know not been yet been revealed. But as Behn resided in Lommedalen, where also his daughter live, it is quite possible that the urn will be interred at Lommedalen Cemetery in Bærum.

Yesterday evening Ari Behn's former wife Princess Märtha Louise wrote the following words on her Instagram account (also published at Kongehuset.no):
We should have been together at Christmas and celebrated. Everyone had looked forward to it.

And we are so endlessly sad and sorry for the loss of you, because you were the girls' warm, funny, wise and good daddy who they miss so much. We miss the funny comments, your nice perspectives, the poetic note, the over-whelming compliments, the great love you had for them. Today you would have been so proud of them. But now there will be an empty space where you were, as for our girls no-one can ever replace you. And it pains to think about that you wanted to leave the world. We are all in deep mourning and pain.

An invisible illness took more and more control over you, because that is the way it is when the mental health fails. Over a long time we saw that you gradually disappeared, but we were firm in the belief that this was going to go well. Your family fought for you. They have been there for you day and night.
You are and will continue to be deeply missed, Ari. And I feel a sorrow that you not quite understood how loved you were. I hope that we who are left behind, can be good at complimenting each other and say the nice words to each other. Because we have this life to share how happy we are for each other and which fantastic qualities we see in each other. We keep you in love, Ari, and go on with your own words: Every day is a party and you are a jewel.

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