King Harald and Queen Sonja will attend the state funeral being mounted for Norwegian actress and activist Wenche Foss. Funeral arrangements were announced Tuesday afternoon, after Foss died Monday at the age of 93.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) will cover the funeral live, another sign of the position Foss held in Norwegian society. She was a much-loved actress, diva and social activist who mingled as easily with the royal family as she did with the man on the street.
Her funeral will be held in Oslo Domkirke, the city’s cathedral that’s also used for royal weddings and state funerals. The Norwegian government announced within hours of Foss’ death that the state will honor her by covering funeral costs, and tributes poured in all day as well.
The funeral will begin at 2pm on Monday, April 4, and is open to the public. With seats expected to be in high demand, NRK’s coverage can offer the public another option for following the ceremony. “We normally cover state funerals, and will this time, too,” TV-chief Arne Helsingen told NRK.no
Foss will be only the fourth non-royal woman in Norwegian history to be honored with a state funeral, after Nobel Prize-winning author Sigrid Undset, cabinet minister Sonja Ludvigsen and literary legend Halldis Moren Vessas. Foss left detailed instructions for how she wants the service to proceed.
Former Oslo Bishop Gunnar Stålsett confirmed Tuesday afternoon that he will conduct the service, at the request of Wenche Foss. Violinist Arve Tellefsen will perform, and a recording of Foss singing Ingrid Sletten, accompanied by pianist Robert Levin, will be played as well.
Foss’ longtime fellow actor Toralf Maurstad had said Monday that Foss had clear ideas of how she wanted her funeral conducted. “She liked to be in charge,” Maustad told NRK.
Foss’ son, Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang, agreed, joking to NRK Tuesday evening that “she would have like to be there,” at her own funeral. Stang said the family was following her wishes as closely as possible.
NRK is also planning to air a memorial program over Wenche Foss’ life, featuring many clips from her 70 years on the stage and screen.