UPDATED: Norway’s 85-year-old monarch is among those still testing positive for the Corona virus. The Royal Palace in Oslo reported Tuesday that King Harald V had mild symptoms but was off on sick leave for several days.
The king had hoped to be quickly back at work, and then travel to London to attend memorial services for the late Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey on March 29. The palace announced on Friday March 25, though, that he still wasn’t well enough and neither he nor Queen Sonja would be able to travel after all. By early April, though, he was back on the job, with he and the queen hosting a reception at the palace on Tuesday April 5 for those receiving royal medals.
It’s not the first time King Harald, who’s fully vaccinated, was tested for the Corona virus. Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt worried she’d infected him earlier this winter, since she’d had a weekly meeting with him just before testing positive herself in late January. Her worries grew when the monarch developed flu-like symptoms shortly thereafter.
That time both the king and Queen Sonja, however, tested negative and Huitfeldt could breathe a sigh of relief. The royals have been active since, and took off on a family holiday in late February, in connection with King Harald’s 85th birthday.
King Harald, who has been ill fairly often in recent years, has also been out among the public, rarely if ever wearing a face mask since they’re no longer required in Norway. He met athletes at last weekend’s biathlon competition at Holmenkollen, for example, and visited a reception center for Ukrainian refugees in Oslo. He also met King Abdullah of Jordan in Oslo the weekend before that.
Pandemic not over
It was his meetings with Ukrainian refugees that perhaps made the biggest impression, since he was a war refugee himself as a young boy. Norway’s royal family and government never surrendered to Nazi Germany, and the royals escaped into exile in both London and Washington during World War II. King Harald, a trained officer himself, described the dilemma facing politicians and NATO: “If we do too much there will be a world war. If we do too little, there can be famine. It’s about finding that balance.”
Many view the pandemic as being over in Norway, with infection levels declining week by week now. Fully 21,196 people have nonetheless tested positive during the past week, and the death toll has risen to 2,339 since the Corona crisis began in early 2020. Health authorities also warn that it’s not over abroad. There’s been little information about how or whether Norway and other countries are testing refugees arriving from Ukraine via Poland, Hungary and other countries. Their sheer safety and immediate needs have seemingly been more important.
Joins other royal Corona patients
King Harald is the latest of several European royals to test positive, including Queen Elizabeth and Crown Prince Charles in Great Britain, Queen Margrethe in Denmark, King Carl Gustav in Sweden and King Felipe in Spain. There was no word yet on whether Norway’s Queen Sonja has also tested positive.
King Harald’s son, Crown Prince Haakon, will step in as regent during his father’s sick leave. He’s been in Northern Norway observing NATO’s Cold Response winter military exercises this week, but would return to Oslo as scheduled later on Tuesday.