LONDON.- In one of the striking postcards of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, Felipe VI of Spain, Juan Carlos I and their wives they sat together in Westminster Abbeyan image that hadn’t seen each other for over two years, when the monarch emeritus went into exile in Abu Dhabi amid investigations into his fortune.
In the sector of the abbey reserved for royal families during the state funeral, near the coffin of the monarch, they were, from right to left, Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, and the emeritus Juan Carlos and Sofía.
I was in the second row, behind Margaret of Denmark and his son Federico; Carlos Gustavo and Silvia from Sweden; Y Guillermo and Máxima of the Netherlands, who also share a row with the princess beatrice.
Felipe VI wore his gala military uniform, Juan Carlos wore a black suit, white shirt and a black tie, while their wives were completely in black, with a hat and, in the case of Sofía, a veil.
The image of the four together had not been seen since January 2020, at the funeral of a sister of Juan Carlos and the king’s aunt, and today it was one of the dominant news items in the Spanish media.
A few months later, the former monarch went into voluntary exile in the United Arab Emirates in mid-2020, stalked by suspected corruption by the opaque origin of his fortune, giving rise to a very manifest public distancing with his son.
The two couples arrived separately at Westminster Abbey, as happened the day before at the reception offered by the new British King Charles III. In both cases, Juan Carlos, 84, who underwent knee and hip surgery in recent years, moved with difficulty.
Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 in favor of his son, was invited by the British government, with the Spanish government insisting that Spain’s representative at the funeral was Felipe VI.
“The head of state is clearly King Felipe VI, he is the one I accompany at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II”, explained this Monday morning in London the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares. “The King Emeritus is in London responding to an invitation in a personal capacity, therefore, I believe that the roles are clearly defined”, he added.
Juan Carlos, absent in the afternoon
According to the Spanish Royal House, Felipe VI will participate today in the religious ceremony prior to the burial of Queen Elizabeth II in the chapel of San Jorge, at Windsor Castle.
Felipe accepted the invitation made by King Carlos III to the royal houses to participate in this religious service, which will take place this Monday afternoon and is more intimate than the state funeral that takes place in Westminster.
Queen Sofia will accompany the king, while Queen Letizia will not be able to attend as she must take a regular flight to New York. the king emeritus Juan Carlos, for his part, declined the invitation, according to the same source.
Juan Carlos I and Isabel II were distant cousins -Queen Victoria was the great-great-grandmother of both-, and Felipe VI treated the monarch as “Aunt Lilibeth” whose funerals bring together dozens of world dignitaries in London.
According to the Spanish Royal House, Sofia – who lives in Spain – traveled to London with the king and queen, but instead of staying with them at the Spanish embassy, She would stay in the same hotel as her husband Juan Carlos “for logistical and organizational reasons.”
Reviews in Spain
The Spanish Left Party United We Can, the minor party in Spain’s coalition government led by the PSOE, criticized the king emeritus’s presence at the funeral.
“Invite a escaped criminal to a state funeral shows what the monarchy is in the UK and in Spain,” Podemos spokesman Pablo Echenique told a news conference last week.
This morning, along with a photo of the funeral, he upped the ante: “The problem is not that an escaped criminal is going to laugh at all the Spaniards at a state funeral. The problem is that, while art. 56.3 of the Constitution, Felipe VI could do the same thing his father did and then have the same laugh of impunity”.
Gerardo Pisarello, a member of the Spanish parliament who represents the Catalan party En Comú Podem de Podemos, told the Spanish news website El Debate that monarchies were “obsolete and anachronistic.” In a speech at the Spanish Congress on Monday, he insisted: “Enough fooling people with fairy tales about the (British and Spanish) monarchy, there is a lot of black history around it.”
Juan Carlos has been embroiled in financial scandals and public backlash over an elephant-hunting trip to Africa.
Spanish prosecutors investigated the accusations of fraud in Spain and Switzerland, but the investigation was abandoned due to insufficient evidence. However, she could still face trial in Britain in a case of bullying filed against him by his ex-lover, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. He denied the accusations.
Agencies AFP, EFE and Reuters