Norway's King Harald, 87, to reduce activity after illness

OSLO (Reuters) -Norway's 87-year-old King Harald will permanently scale back the number of official activities in which he takes part following his recent illness, the royal household said on Monday.

Harald, Europe's oldest serving monarch, was hospitalised in February for an infection while on holiday in Malaysia and later received a pacemaker to help compensate for a low heart rate.

Harald resumed his constitutional duties as head of state on Monday after almost two months of sick leave. He has ruled out abdication, however, insisting his oath as king is for life.

"The king will make adjustments to his programme in the future, out of consideration for his age. This will entail a permanent reduction in the number and scope of activities in which the king participates," the palace said in a statement.

"Practical arrangements will also be made in the conduct of his official activity," it added. The palace did not elaborate on which adjustments it planned to make.

Harald has not been seen in public since before leaving for his holiday in February. He returned home early last month aboard a medical evacuation flight.

Crown Prince Haakon carried out his father's duties in the latter's absence.

The royal palace in its schedule listed three separate meetings for the king on Monday with senior military officers, including the head of Norway's armed forces.

On Thursday he is set to meet Norway's foreign minister and receive new ambassadors from Argentina, Sweden and Costa Rica, before a weekly meeting with the government on Friday.

King Harald V, Norway's ceremonial head of state since 1991, has repeatedly been hospitalised with infections in recent years and previously undergone heart and cancer surgery.

Denmark's 84-year-old Queen Margrethe II stepped down in January after a reign of 52 years, passing the throne to her son Frederik.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik; editing by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Mark Heinrich)