The canons roared at midday on Sunday and flags flew on all public buildings, along with lots of private ones as well. It was all part of the official marking of King Harald V’s 84th birthday, but there were no big parties.
That’s because the monarch is still out on sick leave that recently was extended following surgery on his right knee in late January. The Royal Palace announced on January 30 that the surgery was successful and King Harald was initially only supposed to be off duty until February 14.
His recovery apparently didn’t go quite as expected, though, and his sick leave was later extended until Sunday March 14. The palace announced that the monarch was staying at the royals’ timber lodge in the hills above Oslo, Kongsseteren, where he was receiving physiotherapy treatment.
King Harald has been in and out of the hospital during the past year, and underwent heart surgery in October. His son, Crown Prince Haakon, has been taking over the monarch’s officials duties and has repeatedly claimed that his father is in good humour and keen for a full recovery.
The royal couple marked 30 years as king and queen in January and also have been the subject of a popular TV series on state broadcaster NRK in recent weeks that chronicles all of their state visits around the world since 1991. In addition to offering lots of historic video and insight into the planning that goes into state visits, Queen Sonja and King Harald also sat for lengthy interviews and have revealed lots of often humourous behind-the-scenes situations and political dilemmas faced over the years. Called The Rex factor, the series was continuing Sunday evening on the king’s birthday.