Olivia Newton-John To Have State Funeral

When a loved one dies, an important question is what sort of funeral they should have. In some cases, much will depend on their wishes as well as any practical or financial limitations that exist; those who outline what they want when they pass away will have done a lot of the planning for the event for themselves.

In other instances, such as a sudden and untimely death, those responsible must make the decisions for themselves, using their judgement, working with professionals and assessing their resources as they shape what kind of service there will be, including details like the funeral stationary.

Not many people will get the opportunity for a scaled-up funeral service like the family of Olivia Newton-John, who has just died of cancer in California at the age of 73. Her family has accepted the offer of a state funeral in Australia.

The offer was made by the state government of Victoria, where the Grease star was born. State premier Daniel Andrews, who agreed the plan with the star’s niece, remarked: “This will be much more of a concert than a funeral, I think it will be a celebration of such a rich and generous life.”

Newton-John was born in the UK but considered herself Australian after moving to Melbourne at the age of six. The event will highlight not just her music and her starring role in Grease alongside John Travolta, but also her long battle with cancer and her research fundraising efforts.

State funerals are rare in the UK, reserved for senior royals and other exceptional cases, with Winston Churchill being the only 20th century prime minister to receive one.

The situation is different in Australia, where individual states can make a major public event of the passing of a celebrated figure. Earlier this year, Melbourne was also host to a state funeral for the cricketer Shane Warne, who died of a heart attack at the age of 52.