Crown Prince Frederik is making an unexpected departure from the Winter Olympics to fly home to Denmark, where his 83-year-old father, Prince Henrik, is gravely ill, according to a palace statement released Friday.
As an accomplished skier, Frederik once had his own Olympic dreams. He and his wife, Crown Prince Mary, even met during the Sydney Olympics in 2000. He’s now an active member of the International Olympic Committee and was expected to remain in South Korea until February 25 for the duration of the Games.
But now he must return home before the opening ceremony, the palace confirmed Friday morning. The condition of Prince Henrik, consort of the nation’s reigning Queen Margrethe II, deteriorated this week after he was hospitalized while vacationing in Egypt — without his wife — at the end of January.
Doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and he was hurriedly transported back to Copenhagen, where tests revealed a tumor in his left lung. Although a biopsy confirmed it was benign, he contracted an infection, and the palace announced Friday that Prince Henrik’s condition had “greatly worsened.”
“It’s not good,” the prince’s lifelong friend, fashion designer and businessman Erik Brandt, 74, told the Danish newspaper BT.
“When the Crown Prince returns home from the Olympics in South Korea, you and I know that this is serious,” Brandt said. “Very serious.”
During 2017, Henrik was admitted to the hospital several times before being diagnosed with dementia in September.
On Friday morning, Princess Mary, took the couple’s elder children, Prince Christian, 12, and Princess Isabella, 10, to visit their grandfather in the Copenhagen hospital.
“I know my brother is not well,” his 75-year-old brother, Étienne de Monpezat, told BT. “It seems to be a matter of time.”
Henrick, formerly known as Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, married Queen Margrethe II in June 1967 in Copenhagen. They have two children, Crown Prince Frederik, 49, and Prince Joachim, 48.
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In recent years, the prince, has made headlines for his displeasure with the title he was given in the Danish royal family. Married to Queen Margrethe, he is a prince consort, not a king, as is traditional for men married to female monarchs. However, Henrik thinks that this is unfair to him, and has even cried gender discrimination, and that he should have the title of King Consort. The now-retired royal has even said he refuses to be buried next to his wife.
Henrick’s retirement from public life was announced in January 2016.