Members of the Norwegian Royal Family attended the funeral service for Ari Behn in Oslo Cathedral on Friday, 3 January 2020 at 1.00 pm.

King Harald, Queen Sonja, the Crown Prince Family and Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner with Ari Behn’s parents, Olav Bjøshol and Marianne Behn, and siblings were among the mourners as Bishop Kari Veiteberg led the service, with friends and other relatives.

Princess Märtha Louise accompanied her three daughters, Maud Angelica, aged 16, Leah Isadora, aged 14, and Emma Tallulah, aged 11.

Ari’s Behn’s family had requested the service be open to all who wished to attend the service, as the Cathedral can seat up to 800 people.

A statement from the Cathedral said there was reserved seating ‘for family and loved ones’, with doors opening at 12 noon and advised attendees to arrive early.

The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, other officials, Prince Daniel of Sweden and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands also attended.

However, according to Danish magazine, Billed-Bladet, Crown Princess Victoria was unable to attend as her daughter Princess Estelle broke her leg whilst skiing during a recent holiday in the Alps.

The Cathedral was decorated with large wreaths in the aisle as well as surrounding the white coffin, adorned with flowers.

A portrait of Ari Behn, drawn by his eldest daughter, Maud Angelica as a Christmas present, was placed on the coffin.

Ari Behn’s parents, his siblings and Maud Angelica shared fond memories of their son, brother and father.

Princess Märtha Louise’s Tribute

Princess Märtha Louise also paid tribute to her ex-husband during the service, followed by her daughter’s eulogy.

Dear Ari,

We were supposed to be together at Christmas and celebrating. We had all been looking forward to it.

And we are so infinitely sad and sorry for the loss of just you, because you were the girls’ warm, funny, wise and good dad that they so dearly miss. We miss the funny comments, your fine viewpoints, the poetic tone, the overflowing compliments, the great love you had for them. But now there is a void where you were, because no one can ever replace you for our beautiful girls. And it is so painful to think that you would leave the earth. We are in deep sorrow and pain all together.

An invisible illness took you more and more, because that’s when the mental health fails. For a long time, we gradually saw you disappear, but we held on to the belief that this would 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 sad that you never really understood how loved you were. I hope that we who are left can be good at praising each other and saying the nice words to each other. For we have this life to share just how happy we are for each other and what wonderful qualities we see in each other. We keep you in love, Ari, and move on with your words: Every day is a party and you are a piece of jewellery.

Ari Behn’s father Olav Bjørshol, brother Espen Bjørshol, brother-in-law Christian Udnæs, Crown Prince Haakon, and his nephews Ask and Isak carried the coffin out of the Cathedral to the waiting hearse, after the service had ended.

Maud Angelica described her father’s ‘wonderfully enthusiastically support’ he had provided for her and her sisters.

She also spoke of her loss and urged everyone facing difficulty in their lives to seek help. ‘There is always a way out. Even if it doesn’t feel that way. There are people who can and will help. Ask for help. Asking shows strength, not weakness.’

A Royal Tragedy

Author and playwright Ari Behn had committed suicide on Christmas Day, 25 December 2019.

He married Princess Märtha Louise on 24 May 2002 in Trondheim and produced three daughters.

The Norwegian Royal Court announced in 2016 that Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn had separated and he would have joint custody of their daughters.

The couple divorced in 2017.

King Harald’s New Year Speech Extract

The King had made his own tribute to his former son-in-law in his traditional New Year’s Eve speech.

It has been heart-warming to experience people’s sympathy and the candles burning in the Palace Square. There is solace to be found in all the good memories and caring words that have been said about the father of three of our beloved grandchildren.

Sometimes life is too hard to bear. For some individuals, nothing helps to alleviate the darkness, not even their love for those who are closest to them. Some see no other solution than to leave this life. Those who are left behind must live on – all the poorer without the person they loved.

We know so little about what is to come. We are all vulnerable in the face of this uncertainty. The best thing we can do is to be there for each other, see each other, remember to speak to each other with kindness. And to sustain each other whenever it is needed.

Oslo Cathedral. Photo: © 2005 J. P. Fagerback [BSD (http://opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.php)]

Help For Our Norwegian Listeners and Fans

Oslo Cathedral has advised anyone suffering from mental health and/or suicidal thoughts to seek help by contacting the following:

  • Church SOS: 22 40 00 40
  • Mental Health Helpline: 116 123
  • Contact Oslo Cathedral’s call service via SMS 458 72 120 to make an appointment to speak with a priest or deacon.

And For Fellow Australians

In Australia, there are various organisations who can help.

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