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Queen Silvia says she felt her age in quarantine

Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlstrom/Kungliga Hovstaterna

Queen Silvia said that she felt her age while in quarantine in a new interview with an Alzheimer’s Disease podcast.

Speaking to Henrik Frenkel for his podcast, Help – I Have Alzheimer’s Disease (in Swedish: Hjälp – Jag Har Alzheimer!), that was shared on Monday, International Alzheimer’s Day, Queen Silvia said, “I’ve never felt over 70 before.” The Queen is 76 years old.

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, I had so much to do, to organize, to visit and to give speeches and so on. But suddenly the [King Carl XVI Gustaf] and I were quarantined in Stenhammar for several months,” she continued.

Her Majesty’s main purpose for appearing on the podcast was to talk about her work with dementia and supporting those living with the condition. Her mother, Alice Sommerlath, lived with dementia in her final years before dying in 1997 at the age of 90.

Queen Silvia revealed in the podcast that she found out about her mother’s diagnosis when she couldn’t pack her own suitcase following a visit to the Royal Palace and then she found out that her father, Walther Sommerlath, had been keeping his wife’s diagnosis a secret from the family.

Queen Silvia also revealed that when she found out about her mother’s dementia, she too kept it a secret from Alice. She says that the decision was made out of consideration for her mother but that she likely would not make that same decision today with better knowledge.

“I think the family should talk openly about the disease. It was so strange for the children that my mother could repeat five times that they had not visited them without being able to understand why,” she said.

She also spoke of what she would like to have happen with her family if she were ever diagnosed with dementia. “If I were to become ill with Alzheimer’s, I hope that all the work I have put in over 25 years to develop knowledge about dementia, can also help me and my family in such a situation. That [my family does] not get scared and can stand by my side, and that they include me.

Queen Silvia also discussed how the elderly population of Sweden was treated during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is extremely frightening that so many elderly people have died in the pandemic in Sweden,” Queen Silvia said. “And it was with sadness in my heart that I saw that all the elderly who died became just a number in the statistics. Old people sat alone with their anxiety and their pain.”

She told Frenkel that she felt powerless, quarantined at Stenhammar and unable to visit or help out the elderly with the coronavirus. “It is easy to imagine the pain that all the elderly feel in isolation. I understand that the authorities want the best but people are suffering.”

Queen Silvia was asked, but would not answer, whether she felt Swedish authorities have handled the coronavirus response in a good manner.

Listen to Queen Silvia’s podcast interview here.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.