Felipe VI and Letizia sit next to the King Emeritus and Doña Sofía at the funeral of Elizabeth II | International


The British protocol that has organized the state funeral of Isabell II has also provided an image for the history of Spain. The kings Felipe and Letizia have sat next to the emeritus Juan Carlos I and his wife Doña Sofía in Westminster Abbey. Second lateral row, in front of the monarch’s coffin, in the central nave. On the far left, Felipe VI, in the gala uniform of a Captain General of the Navy. Next to him, Queen Letizia, and then her father-in-law and her mother-in-law, who have been seen talking to each other throughout the religious service. This is the first time that the two couples share the stage in a public act, after Juan Carlos I went to live in the United Arab Emirates.

The members of the invited European royal families had gathered early this Monday at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, from where they were to be transferred by bus to the abbey. It was at that moment that the Spanish Royal House became aware of the decision of the Buckingham protocol that all the representatives of each family occupy the same space in the religious ceremony. All of them have entered the church from the side door of the central nave.

“The representation of Spain today here in London is held by the Head of State, who is Felipe VI, together with the Queen, accompanied by me as a member of the Government,” Foreign Minister José Manuel explained to the Spanish media in London. Albares. The presence of the king emeritus, he has insisted, “responds to an invitation in a personal capacity”, and “the papers [de ambos] they are well defined”, said the minister.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía, along with the Dutch royal family, arrive at Westminster Abbey to attend the state funeral for Elizabeth II. Bernat Armangue (AP)

The Kings flew this Sunday from Madrid, in an Army Falcon. They were accompanied by Albares, and Queen Emeritus Sofía. At one in the afternoon, local time, they landed at Northolt Air Base, near London. Felipe VI and Doña Letizia slept in the ambassador’s residence, in the Belgravia neighborhood. The emeritus kings stayed at a hotel in the British capital.

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In the early afternoon of that same Sunday, the king and queen went to Westminster Hall, where the funeral chapel of Elizabeth II was installed, to offer their personal respect to the monarch. They were accompanied by Minister Albares and the Spanish ambassador to the United Kingdom, José Pascual Marco. Neither at that time, nor when they went to the reception of Buckingham Palace, could the kings and the emeritus be seen together. Carlos III received there all the international dignitaries who had come to London. It was the first time that Felipe VI and his father met. Juan Carlos I arrived at the palace, with visible mobility problems, leaning on a cane and holding on to the arm of one of his security service escorts. He accompanied Doña Sofía.

King Felipe VI and Queen Leticia, together with the emeritus kings, this Monday at Westminster Abbey.
King Felipe VI and Queen Leticia, together with the emeritus kings, this Monday at Westminster Abbey.Gareth Fuller (AFP)

The King and his mother, Doña Sofía, have also attended, at the express invitation of Carlos III, the religious service held in the afternoon in the Chapel of San Jorge, in Windsor Castle. Due to the security measures established in the area, Queen Letizia has not been able to attend, because she already had on her agenda to travel to New York, where she will participate in events of the United Nations General Assembly. Juan Carlos I did not go to Windsor either.

The Spanish Government has not hidden during these days its discomfort due to the presence in London of the King Emeritus, and for this reason the insistence of Minister Albares in denying any role of official representation of Juan Carlos I. It has been the British royal house that, at sending personal invitations to both the kings and the emeritus, has ended up selecting the members of the Spanish delegation, which Moncloa has been forced to accept. The King’s House made public shortly after that it had transferred to the emeritus kings the invitation sent by the British Foreign Ministry, through the Spanish Embassy in London.

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