King Carl XVI Gustaf has spoken out against his country’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying the Swedish government has failed to save lives due to the laissez-faire strategy it had adopted.
“I think we have failed,” King Gustaf said, during an unusually candid interview with state broadcaster SVT, excerpts from which were released on Thursday. “We have a large number who have died and that is terrible. It is something we all have to suffer with,” he lamented, adding that the entire nation has had a “terrible year.”
The king said he was saddened by the deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the “difficult conditions the Swedish people have suffered.”
You think of all the people who have been unable to say farewell to their deceased family members. I think it is a heavy and traumatic experience not to be able to say a warm goodbye,” he said.
The monarch’s frank comments surprised the public, with Johan T. Lindwall, editor-in-chief of the publication Svensk Damtidning saying it was “exceptional and unusual” for the king to have launched such a public critique of the government.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sweden has imposed few restrictions and opted to pursue a ‘herd immunity’ strategy, sparking debate both at home and in the international community. Most notably, as many other European countries went into strict lockdowns in the spring, Sweden remained open.