A casually dressed King Harald V sent some royal encouragement and sympathy to Norwegians struggling with the ongoing Corona crisis on Friday. Hundreds of thousands would normally be taking off on Easter holidays this weekend, but now they’re either stuck at home or hytter where they’re not allowed to have guests or traditional family gatherings. More than 90,000 have been infected and 250 are in the hospital.
“There probably aren’t more words that help right now,” the 84-year-old monarch said. “What we need is an end to the situation we’ve been stuck in for more than a year.”
Norway’s monarch normally addresses the public only once a year, on New Year’s Eve, but King Harald has taken to the airwaves several times since the Corona crisis began. He warned of the seriousness of the situation right after the government shut down the country on March 12 last year, and urged unity and confidence in a surprise televised address to the nation a few days later. He and Queen Sonja spoke on national TV together last Easter, then rode in an open car around Oslo when the traditional 17th of May parade on Constitution Day had to be cancelled. On Friday, Oslo officials announced it has been cancelled again this year.
Now, after several weeks of sharply rising infection rates, vaccine trouble and most of the nation shut down again, it was clearly time for some more royal sympathy and support. King Harald acknowledged at the outset of his remarks in a video released by the Royal Palace that “many are sick and tired” of all the restrictions that have closed restauraunts, stores, bars, cinemas, theaters, museums and most places where the public can gather.
“We all miss normal life,” King Harald said. “That’s why I now, just before Easter, wanted to say that I’m thinking about you.” He praised Norwegians for showing “unique solidarity, confidence in the authorities and adaptability” over a long period. “I’m really impressed,” he said.
“But you know, right now things are really hard,” King Harald said. “We need our unity more than ever. We need to be generous and friendly with one another. We need to support each other in the faith that we’re nearing the end of all this.”
He didn’t mention the words Corona, Covid-19 or virus a single time in his short address, taped from an elegant room at his royal residence with candles burning and potted lilies of the valley in the background. He simply wanted “to wish each and every one of you as happy an Easter as possible” even though he acknowledged that “many of us are disappointed that we can’t be together with friends and family.”
“I hope nonetheless that we all try to make the best out of the situation, wherever we are,” he added, “and that we can find some joy in small things that we can do.” He’s still recovering from a recent knee operation and has had a series of health problems over the past year, but he and Queen Sonja planned to spend Easter at the royal family’s Prinsehytta in the mountains above Vinje in Gudbrandsdalen.