OSLO, Jan 31 — Norway’s King Harald, aged 86 and in poor health, has gone on sick leave until Friday due to a respiratory infection, the Norwegian Palace announced.

The oldest ruling monarch in Europe, who needs crutches to get around, has suffered from a series of health problems and illnesses in recent years, including heart surgery and various respiratory problems and infections.

Last week, he dismissed speculation that he might abdicate, following the lead of distant cousin Queen Margrethe II in Denmark.

Advertisement

After repeatedly insisting that she would never step down, Margrethe stunned Danes when she announced in her New Year’s Eve address that she would abdicate in favour of her eldest son Frederik.

“I stick by what I’ve always said, that I swore an oath to the Storting (parliament) and it is for life,” said Harald, quoted by Norwegian media.

Having spent 33 years on the throne, the king will turn 87 on February 21.

Advertisement

In his absence, Crown Prince Haakon, 50, will be regent. — AFP