King Harald urges unity and confidence

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“We’re in this together, and together we’ll get through what lies ahead,” King Harald V declared in a surprise televised address to the nation Sunday night about the Corona virus crisis .

King Harald V made an unusual adress to the nation on Sunday, adding his weight to the government’s battle against the escalating Corona virus threat. PHOTO: Kongehuset

Norway’s 83-year old monarch described the current crisis situation in the country as “unreal, strange and disturbing to all of us.”

“We can’t recognize either our everyday life or the world around us,” King Harald said in his address that topped state broadcaster NRK’s nightly national newscast. “Yet we’re only at the beginning of something, of which we do not know the full consequences.”

He noted that the uncertainty “makes us vulnerable” while the seriousness of the situation “makes us anxious.” Daily life that now involves quarantine, new restrictions and having to deal with a massive state shut-down of schools and many workplaces “may make us feel despair.”

King Harald’s two-and-a-half minute speech came with little advance warning and was also aired at the end of NRK’s expanded nightly newscast, Dagsrevyen. Its timing and choice of words were clearly aimed at providing some public reassurance and adding extra weight to the Norwegian government’s efforts to mount a “national collaboration” against the spread of the virus.

The king spoke after a weekend of unprecedented confusion and turmoil, during which Norwegians were repeatedly urged by government ministers and health officials to comply with official guidelines, most notably to stay home and, controversially, not escape to their hytte – cabins or holiday homes in the mountains or by the sea.

“Norway is a society built on mutual confidence,” King Harald reminded Norwegians. “Now there’s a special need to have confidence in one another, be condident that each and every one of us acts responsibly to prevent the virus infection from spreading, and that our country’s authorities make good and wise decisions.”

The Norwegian monarch traditionally addresses the nation only on New Year’s Eve. King Harald has, however, made important speeches on special or dramatic occasions, most notably after the terrororist attack on Norway on July 22, 2011. In the past he has also spoken strongly in favour of diversity, tolerance and equality.

Sunday evening’s address was taped at the royal cabin called Kongsseteren in the hills above Oslo, where the monarch is himself in quarantine following a state visit to Jordan. He has not violated the government ban on going to his own hytte, though, since Kongsseteren is within Oslo’s city limits, and the ban only applies to those who have a holiday property in another municipality than the one in which they reside.

Video: King Harald addresses nation (in Norwegian, external link)

newsinenglish.no/Morten Møst