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Queen Sonja cancels major appearance because of continuing illness

Oskar Aanmoen/Royal Central

Queen Sonja of Norway has had to cancel a new appearance because of ill health. On Thursday night, Her Majesty should have been back at work for the first time after she had to cancel her duties on Tuesday last week because she had an infection in the upper respiratory tract. However, she was forced to miss the event as she is still unwell.

Together with His Majesty the King, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette Marit and Princess Astrid, Sonja should have attended the annual gala dinner for the elected representatives from the Norwegian Parliament. Only hours before the dinner itself, the royal court announced that both Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette Marit would have to miss the event. Queen Sonjaw’s illness is still being treated while Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis last year, was too tired following an official visit to Germany which had only just come to an end.

The King, Crown Prince and Princess Astrid met the elected officials on their own. In his speech, His Majesty addressed the situation and said: “Once again I warmly welcome you to the Castle, and to this traditional dinner. I will greet you so warmly from the Queen, who is unfortunately sick.”

As usual, the King also talked about what had happened in the past year including sharing an anecdote about his wife with guests. King Harald said: “Many of you have travelled the last few months. In the royal family, some of us are more happy to travel than others. As you may know, there is hardly a fjord or mountain peak that has not been visited by the Queen. On the island of Storemolla in Nordland they received such a visit. The locals their set up a walking trail in her footsteps, so now many people can walk their legs off. And you don’t have to walk the whole route, you can actually choose to take a quarter Queen, a half, or a whole. Still, I think a whole Queen is preferable.”

The Royal Palace in Oslo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

This royal reception for Parliament`s representatives at the royal palace is as part of a tradition stretching back over 100 years. The dinner was established as a tradition by King Haakon in 1906, but has roots back to the Union era. The dinner has been held every year since 1906, except for the years during World War II and when major maintenance work has made it impossible.

Queen Sonja, who is 81, has been suffering from a respiratory infection for over a week now. On Tuesday last week, Queen Sonja should have opened an exhibition with her own works at Gallery Bi-Z in Kristiansand. The exhibition had been planned for three years. Her Majesty also cancelled her attendance last Thursday when she should had opened a new exhibition in her own art stable at the royal palace. This was instead done by her sister-in-law, Princess Astrid.

This is not the first time this year that the Queen has had to cancel an event on short notice. When the president of South Korea visited Norway in June, the Queen also had to cancel due to an infection, that time in the foot. In 2017, Queen Sonja was also forced to cancel engagements due to illness. Back then, it was back pain that kept her away from work. On Christmas day in 2016, she was also ill, and therefore did not attend the traditional church service in Holmenkollen chapel.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.