Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik has cut short his visit to the Winter olympics in Pyeongchang to return home to his sick father, Prince Henrik, whose health has deteriorated, the palace said Friday.
Henrik, the 83-year-old French-born husband of Queen Margrethe, was hospitalised in Copenhagen in late January for a pulmonary infection and a benign tumour in his left lung.
“His Royal Highness Prince Henrik’s condition has unfortunately seriously deteriorated,” the palace said in a statement, adding that the crown prince, 49, “is now on his way back to Denmark.”
Prince Henrik was diagnosed in September 2017 with dementia.
The palace never disclosed further details, saying simply that his illness “involves a deterioration of cognitive abilities”.
Born Henri Marie Jean Andre de Laborde de Monpezat on June 11, 1934 near Bordeaux, he married Margrethe, then crown princess, in 1967.
Henrik, who retired from public service in January 2016, has often spoken out about his frustration that his royal title of prince was never changed to king when his wife became queen in 1972.
Last year, he announced that he did not want to be buried next to his wife because he was never made her equal in life, thereby breaking with the tradition of burying royal spouses together in Roskilde Cathedral west of Copenhagen.
The royal couple also have another son, Prince Joachim, who is 48.
A tearful Lindsey Vonn vowed Friday to “lay it all out” at her fourth olympics to honour her late grandfather, the inspiration behind her stellar ski career.
“It’s really hard for me not to cry,” Vonn said when asked about Don Kildow, who died in November at the age of 88.
“I just want so badly to do well for him. I miss him so much, he’s been such a big part of my life.
“I really hoped he’d have been alive to see me, but I know he’s watching and I know he’s going to help me, and I’m going to win for him.”
Don Kildow built the first ski hill around Milton, Wisconsin, and taught his own children to ski before going on to inspire his grandchildren.
“You taught me to be tough, to be kind, and above all, to ski fast,” Vonn said in an Instagram post shortly after his death, one of many social media postings hailing the influence of her grandfather, who was ironically stationed not far from the Jeongseon Alpine Centre when he served with the US army during the Korean War.
Vonn confirmed she felt “really good”, but added: “It’s not really about me or my career, it’s about my grandfather.
“I’m just going to lay it all out there. I’m going to give it everything I have and whatever happens will happen.
“I’m not going to be nervous, I know he’s looking out for me and that gives me some peace of mind.”
Walking in my last opening ceremonies with my teammates tonight was incredible.🙏🏻🇺🇸 So honored to be a part of this team! Sports has the power to unite the world, and watching N & S Korea walk together tonight is what it’s all about. 🌏❤️
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) February 9, 2018
Vonn won Olympic gold in the downhill and super-G bronze at the 2010 Games, but missed the 2014 olympics through injury.
This time around she confirmed she will compete in the downhill, super-G and the combined.
“I’m coming in on a hot streak,” the 33-year-old said. “I love the track here, the downhill is really well suited for me.
“But I’ve decided not to do the giant slalom because my knee’s not in place to do that.
“I don’t think I can contend for a medal so there’s no point.”
Vonn, a four-time overall World Cup champion, has notched up 81 World Cup victories said she has Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 race wins in her sights.
“I’m definitely going to ski another season after this,” she said.
“I’m going to continue skiing until I get to 86. I think next year I can get beyond that. As long as my knee is holding up and I’m still able to win then I will keep skiing, but it really depends on my knee, that’s the determing factor on my retirement.”
Having spent the best part of three years in rehabilitation since 2012, Vonn left no one in any doubt about her focus.
“My entire summer has been focused on the olympics. It’s what I think about the first thing when I wake up and it’s what I think about when I go to sleep.”
The two Koreas marched together and South Korea’s president shared a historic handshake with Kim Jong Un’s sister as the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opened in a spirit of intense rapprochement on Friday.
At a glittering but sub-zero ceremony, South and North Korea brought the crowd to its feet as they entered behind the blue-and-white Korean unification flag.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook the hand of a smiling Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as he entered the VIP seating section, and again as the Korean athletes marched.
South and North Korea last marched together at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. They also made the symbolic gesture at the opening of the 2000 and 2004 Olympics in Sydney and Athens.
“You will inspire us all to live together in peace and harmony despite all the differences we have,” said International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, before Moon declared the Games open.
Kim Yu-na, South Korea’s former gold medal-winning figure skater, wore skates as she lit the Olympic cauldron, after being handed the torch by two members of the joint Korean women’s ice hockey team.
Lee Hee-beom, head of the Games organising committee, said: “the North and South have become one through the Olympics”.
“Pyeongchang Olympics will become the hope and light for everyone that hopes for peace, not only on the Korean peninsula but in northeast Asia and the entire world,” said Lee.
In contrast, Russia’s athletes entered the ceremony behind a neutral flag after their team was suspended over a doping scandal. Despite the ban, 168 “Olympic Athletes from Russia” will compete in Pyeongchang.
Shivering athletes and spectators are bracing for one of the coldest Winter olympics on record, with real-feel temperatures plumbing minus 10C at the opening ceremony.
Japan’s speed skaters are among the athletes who decided it was too cold to brave the open-air ceremony, while organisers handed out heat packs, blankets and hats to keep spectators warm.
But Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua, echoing his eye-catching entrance at the Rio olympics, happily braved the chill as he appeared stripped to the waist and with his chest heavily oiled.
Expectations are sky-high for an array of stars at Pyeongchang, including American skiers Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn, while the drama in figure skating centres on whether Japan’s “Ice Prince” Yuzuru Hanyu can recover from injury to retain his crown.
Potential winners also include French flag-bearer Martin Fourcade in biathlon, hoping to add to his two gold medals in Sochi in 2014.
Competition gets into full swing on Saturday with five gold medals available, in ski jumping, cross country skiing, biathlon, speed skating and short-track speed skating.