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King Harald of Norway to Permanently Reduce Royal Duties Following Lengthy Sick Leave



King Harald V of Norway is making a change to his royal role.

On April 22, the Norwegian Royal House announced that the King, 87, will make a “permanent reduction” to his royal duties moving forward. 

“The King will make adjustments to his program in the future, out of consideration for his age. This will entail a permanent reduction in the number and scope of activities in which the King participates,” courtiers said in a statement on April 22, Reuters reported.

“Practical arrangements will also be made in the conduct of his official activity,” it continued.

No further information was given on what the official adjustments might look like.

The update came on the same day that the King’s two-week sick leave ended, according to the palace. His schedule showed several audiences planned for April 22 and more meetings on the calendar for April 25.

(From left) Crown Prince Haakon and King Harald of Norway inaugurate the Double-Track Express Line between Oslo and Ski on December 12, 2022.
Per Ole Hagen/Getty

The news about King Harald’s reduction in royal duties follows a whirlwind turn of events that began when he fell ill during a private trip to Malaysia in February. The King may have jetted abroad to celebrate his birthday, as he turned 87 on Feb. 21.

The Norwegian Royal House said in a statement on Feb. 27, “His Majesty the King has fallen ill during his holiday stay in Malaysia and is hospitalized there, with an infection. The King receives good care from both Malaysian and Norwegian medical personnel.”

In an update the next day, the court said that the King’s physician was in Langkawi and confirmed that the royal “is improving from his infection. ”

“His Majesty is well taken care of at the hospital and is receiving good treatment,” the statement said.

King Harald at a lunch with members the Norwegian government on February 24, 2024 in Oslo, Norway.


On March 2, the court announced that King Harald received a temporary pacemaker at Hospital Sultanah Maliha “due to a low heart rate” and would be medically transported home to Norway when possible. With his wife, Queen Sonja, by his side, the monarch was flown home to Norway the next day. 

The Norwegian Royal House further confirmed on March 3 that Crown Prince Haakon, the King’s only son and heir, would act as regent and assume his father’s constitutional duties for the two weeks that followed.

On March 12, King Harald received the permanent pacemaker and remained in the hospital in Oslo for a few days. The royal was cleared to go home two days later, and the court confirmed he would extend his work leave.

“His Majesty The King has today been discharged from Rikshospitalet and is doing well. The King is on sick leave until Monday, 8 April, for rest and recuperation,” said a statement on March 14. “His Royal Highness The Crown Prince Regent will take care of The King’s constitutional duties during this period.”

That respite was extended earlier this month, and the court referred to the King’s ongoing recuperation. 

(From left) Crown Prince Haakon and King Harald of Norway visit at the Norwegian Press Association on January 23, 2024 in Oslo, Norway.

Rune Hellestad – Corbis/Getty

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“His Majesty The King is undergoing rehabilitation following his hospitalization earlier this his winter and still needs more time before returning to his constitutional duties,” courtiers said in an update on April 4. “Therefore, His Majesty will be on sick leave for two more weeks until Monday 22 April.”

Crown Prince Haakon, 50, acted as regent during that time in his father’s stead and continued with a trip to the U.S. from April 15 to April 19, including a stop at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied in the 1990s.

The King was most recently seen in a photograph shared by Norwegian Royal House a few days before Easter. The image was significant as the first official photo of the monarch was released following his medical scare during the Malaysian vacation. 

The portrait showed King Harald seated and smiling beside Queen Sonja, 86, as the couple’s son Crown Prince Haakon and daughter-in-law Crown Princess Mette-Marit stood behind them along with grandchildren Princess Ingrid Alexandra, 20, and Prince Sverre Magnus, 18.

Though the King of Norway has had several health issues in recent years, including hospitalizations for infections in December 2022 and May 2023, he insisted he had no plans to abdicate after Queen Margrethe of Denmark voluntarily stepped down from the throne in January. 

“No, I don’t really have it. I stand by what I have said all along. I have taken an oath to the Storting, and it lasts for life,” King Harald said at an event in January, referring to his promise to the Norwegian Parliament when he acceded at age 53 in 1991.

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