Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf says that he believes his country has failed to protect the elderly in care homes from the effects of the pandemic.
“I think we have failed. We have a large number who have died and that is terrible. It is something we all suffer with,” the monarch said.
His comments followed the conclusions presented Tuesday by an independent commission that looked into Sweden’s handling of the pandemic. It said that elderly care in Sweden has major structural shortcomings and authorities have proved unprepared and ill-equipped to meet the pandemic.
Sweden has stood out among European and other nations for the way it has handled the pandemic, long not mandating lockdowns like other nations but relying on citizens’ sense of civic duty. The Scandinavian country has seen nearly 7,700 virus-related deaths.
“You think of all the family members who have not been able to say goodbye to their deceased family members,” the king said in an excerpt of a prerecorded interview to be broadcast Dec. 21 on Swedish broadcaster SVT. “I think it is a heavy and traumatic experience not to be able to say a warm goodbye.”
“The Swedish people have suffered enormously in difficult conditions,” Carl Gustav said, adding, “Lately, it has felt more obvious, it has crept closer and closer. That’s not what you want.”
His son, Prince Carl Philip who is fifth in the line of succession, and his wife Princess Sofia have both tested positive and had milder flu symptoms. They were quarantined at home with their two children.
Carl Gustaf is Sweden’s head of state, but his duties are ceremonial, and he holds no political power.