WHILE the whole world will have its eyes fixed on Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday, in Spain there will be an entertaining sideshow that will arguably capture just as much attention. The question that many are asking ahead of the event is: will King Felipe VI be photographed next to his father, Juan Carlos?
The self-styled emeritus king abdicated from the throne in 2014 after a series of scandals about his private life. In 2020, he opted to go into self-imposed exile due to revelations about his financial dealings, which were subject to legal probes both in Spain and in Switzerland.
Since that year, Felipe has tried to distance the royal family from Juan Carlos, who was once highly revered by the press and public alike thanks to his role in the country’s transition to democracy.
The pair have not been seen together in public since 2020, at the funeral of a relative, and that would no doubt have continued to be the case were it not for the queen’s funeral.
As head of state, Felipe was invited to the funeral, along with wife Queen Letizia. But Juan Carlos and his estranged wife Queen Sofía were also sent invitations. Both are distant cousins of Queen Elizabeth II – they are all descendants of Queen Victoria – and they are reported to have enjoyed a close relationship.
The decision by Juan Carlos to attend the funeral has caused shockwaves in the Spanish media, the government and the royal household itself. “It is completely logical for him to be invited and totally illogical for him to go,” sources close to the royal household were reported to have said in Spanish online daily El Español.
Felipe VI’s team is reportedly “uncomfortable” with the situation and are trying to understand it, but are also concerned about the repercussions of the pair coinciding – both in the media and among society as a whole.
“All of the accredited photographers at the funeral will be trying to get a photo of the two kings, something we will avoid at all costs,” a source close to the royal household told El Español. “But of course, if they see each other at some point, won’t Don Felipe greet his father?”
Given their different statuses, however, it is unlikely they will coincide – particularly given there will be more than 2,000 people at the funeral service in Westminster Abbey.
It is still unclear as to whether or not Queen Sofía, who still lives in Madrid despite her husband having moved to Abu Dhabi, will be Juan Carlos’s companion at the funeral. What has been confirmed is that King Felipe and Queen Letizia will stay at the residence of the Spanish ambassador on the trip, while Juan Carlos and Sofía will be in the same hotel.