As the country's government implements emergency measures, Norway's King took to the airwaves this weekend to reassure the population.
His Majesty King Harald V of Norway held an unexpected live television address to the Norwegian population at the weekend. Arranged at short notice, the speech covered the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus in Norway.
The address was made from Oslo's Royal Lodge, where the King and Queen have been since Thursday last week. Although in home quarantine, neither King Harald nor Queen Sonja are ill. The lodge is frequently used by the Royal Couple to celebrate Christmas with their family. It's also often used by the family during the Holmenkollen ski festival.
The Norwegian government implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone returning to Norway from almost all other countries after 27 February, in a bid to prevent further spread of the virus. So, the Royals' quarantine is purely a precaution.
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“Thoughts and prayers”
Echoing the feelings of much of the nation as Norway essentially closes down for 14 days, King Harald described the situation as “unreal, alien and frightening,” and offered his “thoughts and prayers” to everyone, especially those who are sick.
He urged the Norwegian people not to panic, trust in one another, and listen to orders given by the authorities. He explained that the number one priority is to slow the spread of the virus. “Together we stand in this, and together we will be able to get through what lies ahead,” said the King.
The King's address in full
Here is a rough English translation of the King's address to the Norwegian people.
We find ourselves in a situation that is unreal, alien and frightening for all of us. We do not recognise our everyday life or the world around us. And yet we are only standing at the beginning of something we do not fully know the consequences of.
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Uncertainty makes us vulnerable. The seriousness makes us anxious. The new everyday life can give us a feeling of powerlessness. Norway is affected along with the rest of the world. Now our most important task is to try to slow down the dramatic development, by following the orders given by the authorities.
We can be grateful that we have political leaders and professional authorities with the courage and knowledge to deal with the situation with honesty and realism. Norway is known as a society based on trust.
Now there is a special need to show each other trust. Both to ensure that everyone takes responsibility for preventing the spread of infection. And for the country’s authorities to make good and wise decisions.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all now. With you who are sick and with you who are relatives of the sick. My thoughts and prayers are with health professionals all over the country, day and night. With those who are experiencing financial loss and fear for the future. To all of you who hold important social functions so that our country can function.
My thoughts and prayers are with all the children – who may be particularly anxious now – and whom we must take extra care of. And with those who feel the loneliness because our small and large communities are temporarily taken away from us.
Finally, I would like to remind you that everyone needs some extra kindness during this time. Together we stand, and together we will be able to get through what lies ahead.