Sweden has "failed" in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, King Carl XVI Gustaf said.
"I think we have failed. We have a large number who have died and that is terrible," the king said in a clip broadcast on Thursday from an upcoming end-of-year documentary on the royal family made by public broadcaster SVT.
Sweden, which has a population of some 10 million, has reported over 7,800 virus-related deaths, a far higher toll than its Nordic neighbours.
The pandemic "has been terrible considering all the people who have passed, and the sadness and frustration in many families and even many business owners who are on their knees," he said.
Earlier this week a government-appointed commission concluded that the country failed to protect elderly people in care homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic, resulting in a large number of deaths.
In the SVT interview, the king noted how challenging it must have been for many people who have been unable to say a proper farewell to their loved ones due to the risk of infection.
Asked if he was afraid of being infected with Covid-19, the 74-year-old monarch replied: "Lately, it has felt more palpable, it has crept closer and closer. It's not something you want."
Under the Swedish constitution, the king has no formal political power. He has been criticized in the past for overstepping his authority when expressing his views.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the king and Queen Silvia, self-isolated at Stenhammar Palace, about 120 kilometres south-west of Stockholm.
Recently their son, Prince Carl Philip, and his wife went into quarantine after testing positive for the virus.