King Harald V of Norway remains hospitalized on a Malaysian island after falling ill on vacation

LANGKAWI, Malaysia — Europe’s oldest monarch, King Harald V of Norway, remained hospitalized in Malaysia on Wednesday, in the country’s northern resort island of Langkawi, after becoming ill while on vacation.

His son, Crown Prince Haakon, said in Norway that his 87-year-old father “is doing better now. Now he needs some rest, so it looks like things are going better.”

Malaysian national news agency Bernama said that Harald was undergoing treatment at the Sultanah Maliha Hospital in Langkawi. The report cited unnamed sources as saying he was staying in the hospital’s Royal Suite.

The hospital declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press. Malaysia’s health ministry told the media to wait for a possible statement.

“The king was in good spirits,” the heir to the throne said, adding that he had spoken with his parents over the phone on Wednesday.

“It is clear that his age means that it is good to treat this properly. They are very good at the hospital,” Haakon told Norwegian reporters. “We don’t know when he will come home. We will have to decide on that later.”

On Tuesday, the royal palace in Oslo said that the king was hospitalized with an infection, but didn’t provide further details. The palace said that it may send a statement out later Wednesday.

Two days before his birthday last week, Norwegian news agency NTB said that the king would be undertaking a private trip abroad together with his wife Queen Sonja, without specifying the destination or dates.

The monarch, who has been seen using crutches in recent years, has been repeatedly ill in recent months, raising concern about the head of state’s health. In January, the palace said he was on sick leave until Feb. 2 because of a respiratory infection.

In December, he was admitted to a hospital with an infection and was treated with intravenous antibiotics. He also was hospitalized last August with a fever.

Still, Harald has repeatedly said he has no plans to abdicate, unlike his second cousin Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who stunned Danes when she announced in a New Year’s speech that she was stepping down. Each time the king was reported ill, the 50-year-old Haakon has taken over his duties in line with protocol.

The palace in Oslo told NTB said there were no plans to alter a planned trip by Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit on Wednesday and Thursday to southern Norway.

According to the royal house’s calendar, Harald’s first official task after the vacation is scheduled for March 8, when he and Haakon are due to preside over the state council — a monthly meeting with the government — at the royal palace in Oslo. At those meetings, new legislation is sanctioned by the monarch and also signed by the prime minister, after which it takes effect.

On Jan. 23, Harald said that he stood by the oath he made when he ascended the throne in 1991.

“I maintain what I have said all the time. It lasts for life,” he said.


Jan M. Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark.

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