The heir to the Norwegian throne will perform the King’s duties until the 82-year-old monarch returns to work — which the House of Glücksburg hopes will be before Christmas Day.
“He is sick with a viral infection, but he is doing well,” Haakon told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, adding that he believes his father will be back to his best in a couple of days.
As for whether it will have consequences for the royal family’s Christmas celebrations — which include a festive card released Saturday — he added, “We hope not,” reports NRK.
This isn’t the first time Haakon has assumed the title of regent — essentially, ruling as King but without the official coronation. Harald stepped back for three days in 2018 due to acute foot pain. The Norwegian King also underwent surgery for a heart condition in 2005, and was successfully treated for bladder cancer in 2003.
The move is fairly common among the royal houses of Europe and has happened frequently across the centuries to continue royal power should a monarch fall ill — or, in the case of George III of England, go mad. It’s also recently been suggested that Prince Charles may become regent should Queen Elizabeth, 93, step back from royal duties when she reaches the age of 95.
Questions were first raised about King Harald’s health when he failed to attend a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The next cabinet is scheduled for Friday and it’s not currently known if he will attend, adds NRK.
The news also follows closely on the heels of Haakon’s wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, 46, speaking out about her association with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein on December 2.
“I would never have had anything to do with Epstein if I had been aware of the seriousness of his criminal acts,” Princess Mette-Marit said in a written statement to the Dagens Næringsliv newspaper. “I should have examined Epstein’s past more closely, and I regret that I did not.”
According to the outlet, Princess Mette-Marit met with Epstein several times between 2011 and 2013, long after he served nearly 13 months in jail for paying an underage girl for sexual services.
“One of the meetings was at Epstein’s home,” Guri Varpe, communications chief at the Royal Palace, told DN. “In addition, the crown princess had a brief meeting with Epstein once when he was in Oslo.”
Crown Prince Haakon also reportedly met Epstein “on the street” while they were on holiday in St. Barts in 2012. “Then Crown Prince Haakon greeted Epstein for the first and only time,” according to Varpe.
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Haakon and Mette-Marit, 46, — who suffers from a rare form of chronic lung disease — will hope to put this all behind them over the holidays, which they will spend at their remote country cottage in Uvdal, 150 miles to the west of the capital, with children Princess Ingrid Alexandra, 15, and Prince Sverre Magnus, 14.
King Harald is scheduled to celebrate the holidays with wife Queen Sonja — also 82 — at their fairytale Royal Lodge (known as Kongssetra) on the outskirts of Oslo.