Norwegians heap birthday praise on ‘verdens beste konge’

Everybody who is anybody in Norway queued up to salute King Harald V on his 80th birthday, showing once again that no one loves their royals like the Norwegians.

Norwegians heap birthday praise on 'verdens beste konge'
King Harald V poses with Queen Sonja for his 80th birthday. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix
“It's always nice to be around him. His laughter is often what dominates meetings,” said Prime Minister Erna Solberg; “He is an incredibly nice person,” added Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre: “A wonderful king,” said Progress Party leader Siv Jensen. 
Former prime minister Thorbjørn Jagland dubbed him “klokekongen”, or “The wise king” for his rare combination of high intelligence and wisdom. 
A survey carried out by Verdens Gång newspaper, titled “Yes, we love the King!”, found that 80 percent of Norwegians believed he was “doing a good job”. 
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Royal expert Kjell Arne Totland gushed. “When 80 percent of the Norwegian people say that Kong Harald is doing a good job, it shows a unique respect for a reigning monarch.” 
King Harald won global praise last September when his powerful speech celebrating the country’s diversity went viral, with a clip on NRK being seen 2m times. 
“Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing,” he added. “In other words, Norway is you. Norway is us,” King Harald said. 
Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Olemic Thommessen, president of Norway’s parliament started the day with an official birthday greeting at the gates of the Royal Palace in Oslo. 
King Harald will hold his official birthday celebration jointly with Queen Sonja on May 10. 


Row in Spain over reports King Felipe’s sisters got Covid vaccine in the UAE

Reports that Spanish King Felipe VI's sisters got vaccinated for the coronavirus in the UAE sparked controversy Wednesday, with hard left party Podemos, part of the ruling coalition, saying such "privileges" served to "discredit" the monarchy.

Row in Spain over reports King Felipe's sisters got Covid vaccine in the UAE
Spain's Royal Family - Princesses Elena and Cristina are directly next to King Felipe's right (in the blue suit). Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

According to El Mundo and El Confidencial, Princess Elena, 57, and Princess Cristina, 55, got the inoculations in February while visiting their father, ex-king Juan Carlos, in Abu Dhabi.

The two royals would not yet qualify for the jab under Spain’s Covid-19 immunisation programme, which gives priority to older people and the most vulnerable.

Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014, moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in August amid growing questions over his financial dealings.

A spokesman for the royal palace refused to comment on the reports on the grounds that the princesses are formally “not part” of the institution and the palace has no say in their activities.

Podemos, the junior partner in Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s minority coalition government which is staunchly anti-monarchy, strongly criticised the royals.

“The vaccination of the princesses is more news which contributes to discrediting the monarchy. For the public, this constitutes preferential treatment and privileges,” Equality Minister Irene Montero, a member of Podemos, told public television TVE.

The monarchy is one of several issues which dividing Podemos and the Socialists, which have governed since January 2020.

It is the first time that an anti-monarchy party has been in power since Spain returned to democracy in the 1970s.

The controversy over the vaccinations comes less than a week after Juan Carlos settled a debt of nearly 4.4 million euros ($5.3 million) with the

Spanish tax authorities in a bid to avoid a potential lawsuit. The back-taxes were due on the previously undeclared value of private jet flights — worth eight million euros, according to press reports — paid by a foundation based in Liechtenstein belonging to a distant cousin of Juan Carlos.

The payment caused outrage in Spain, with Sanchez saying he shared the “rejection” which the “majority” of Spaniards feel towards what he called Juan Carlos’ “uncivic behaviour”.

The country’s former intelligence chief, Felix Sanz Roldan, also received the coronavirus vaccine in Abu Dhabi duri

ng a visit to Juan Carlos, according to Spanish media reports.

Spain’s chief of defence staff resigned in January after it was revealed that he got the coronavirus jab in Spain despite not being on a priority list.