UPDATED: Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit is slowly easing back into official duties, after being sidelined with a herniated disc in her neck since October. Mette-Marit underwent a neck operation last month, but appeared on Wednesday at a women’s health conference run by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
The crown princess took part in a conversation about women’s health globally, an issue in which she’s highly engaged, with Tore Godal, a special adviser in the prime minister’s office for whom Mette-Marit said she had tremendous respect.
“I’ve looked forward to this all autumn,” Mette-Marit said on Wednesday. “When I was invited, I asked if I could be allowed to have this inteview with a man for whom I have deep respect.” She said Godal’s name often comes up when she travels abroad to talk about health issues. He has led the global vaccination alliance known as GAVI, which has support from both tycoon Bill Gates and the Norwegian government.
“Jens Stoltenberg (Norway’s former prime minister) has said that you are one of the Norwegians who has saved the most lives since (Fridtjof) Nansen,” Crown Princess Mette-Marit told Godal during their conversation at the NORAD conference. New Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced recently, during a visit by Gates, that Norway will continue to help fund the vaccination program.
The crown princess wasn’t due to end her sick leave until shortly before Christmas, and has had to cancel a number of official engagements over the past few months. She is still recuperating from her neck operation, but last week managed to attend a board meeting for the crown couple’s charity fund.
Mette-Marit won’t be attending the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert on Wednesday evening, and she has no more official engagements planned this month. Her absence from public view in recent months set off speculation about the royal couple’s relationship, but the palace has dismissed social media reports of any split. Crown Prince Haakon joined her at Wednesday’s conference at the SAS Hotel in Oslo, after just returning from attending the memorial in Johannesburg to the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa. The crown prince was still scheduled to attend the Nobel concert himself.