This year, the Royal families of Europe have faced, along with all of us, a new type of crisis, a global pandemic. In a new book about King Harald which will be published in Norway this autumn, the King shares his views on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and how this has affected him and the royal family. King Harald and Queen Sonja were themselves quarantined after a state visit to Jordan in March.
King Harald says: “We also noticed the longing to hug those we love. We were not allowed to do that either. I myself have been so isolated that I have not been afraid of being infected. Nevertheless, you never know. I am probably not someone who walks around and is afraid of what might happen. It was still a challenging time. I am definitely in the risk group.”
From a life in quarantine at the royal winter residence “Kongsseteren”, King Harald led the Council of State by phone and gave a speech to the Norwegian people. He did so three days after the government had introduced the most drastic measures we have had in Norway in a time of peace.
The King states: “ I did my best to help keep the nation together. To emphasize how serious the situation was. At this point, I think there were many who did not realize that it was as serious as it actually was. As king, I underlined the seriousness the government had presented to us”.
Ahead of this year’s national day celebration on May 17th, there was uncertainty associated with the royal family’s plans. The children’s parade were cancelled, and people were asked not to travel to the Royal Palace but rather to stay at home as much as possible. Nevertheless, the royal family appeared on the Palace balcony and sang the national anthem. King Harald says about the day: “It was touching to stand there and sing the national anthem. We knew that the whole of Norway sang along from their homes. It was sung all over the country at the same time. It was not just us. This is the first time something like this has happened”.
Later that day, as a surprise, the royal couple and the crown prince couple went on a tour of the capital by open car. The King said: “We were sitting in an open car. It seemed as if people did not believe their own eyes. It was a little fun. It was a happy atmosphere. A very different way to meet people. When people could not come to us, we had to try to come to them. May 17, 2020 was a great day. We were very excited and it was very different. So it was a great experience.”