Felipe VI of Spain, Juan Carlos I and their wives shared benches on Monday during the funeral of Elizabeth II, an unprecedented image for more than two years, when the emeritus monarch went into exile in Abu Dhabi amid investigations into his fortune.
In the industry of westminster abbey reserved for royal families during the state funeral, near the coffin of the monarch, were, in this order, from right to left, Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, and the emeritus Juan Carlos and Sofía.
Philip VI dressed in his full military uniform, Juan Carlos wore a black suit, white shirt and a black tie, while his wives were completely in black, with a hat and, in the case of Sofía, a veil.
Behind them, in the third row, the Belgian monarchs, Felipe and Matilde, watched the funeral, together with the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Enrique, and his wife María Teresa, born in Cuba.
And, in the first row, the Dutch kings, Guillermo Alejandro and his wife Máxima Zorreguieta –born in Argentina–, those of Sweden, Carlos XVI and Silvia, followed the service, together with Margarita II of Denmark, whom the death of Isabel II becomes, after 82 years and half a century of reign, as the European monarch with the longest time on the throne.
The image of the four Spanish monarchs together had not been seen since January 2020, at the funeral of a sister of Juan Carlos and the king’s aunt.
A few months later, the former head of state went into voluntary exile in the United Arab Emirates in mid-2020, stalked by suspicions of corruption due to the opaque origin of his fortune, leading to a very obvious public estrangement from his son.
Since then, he returned to Spain only once, in May 2022, to participate in a regatta and see his family, a meeting of which no images emerged, but which revived the controversy over his figure.
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 has undergone knee and hip surgery in recent years, moved with difficulty.
They were also housed separately during the two days of their stay in London.
“Defined roles”, according to the government
John 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 queen’s funeral Isabel 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, so I think the roles are clearly defined,” he added.
At the judicial level, the only open case that Juan Carlos has is precisely in Great Britain: a lawsuit for harassment filed by his former lover Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a 58-year-old Danish businesswoman.
On the other hand, in Spain, the three investigations into his finances were filed, in part because of the immunity he had while he was head of state.
Juan Carlos I and Isabel II they were distant cousins – Queen Victoria was both their great-great-grandmother – and Felipe VI treated the monarch as “Aunt Lilibeth” whose funerals bring together dozens of world dignitaries in London.
The ties of both families are double, because Sofia comes from the Greek royal family, like the late Philip of Edinburgh, husband of Isabel II.