United Kingdom

Fury after Spanish king's 'privileged' sisters 'get Covid jabs in UAE instead of waiting their turn'

Fury has erupted in Spain over reports that King Felipe VI's sisters got vaccinated for coronavirus in the United Arab Emirates. 

According to El Mundo and El Confidencial, Princess Elena, 57, and Princess Cristina, 55, got the jabs last month while visiting their father, former king Juan Carlos, in Abu Dhabi.

The two royals would not yet qualify for the jabs under Spain's Covid-19 immunisation programme, which gives priority to older people and the most vulnerable.  

A spokesman for the royal palace refused to comment on Wednesday's reports on the grounds that the princesses are formally 'not part' of the institution and the palace has no say in their activities.

Fury has erupted in Spain over reports that King Felipe VI's sisters got vaccinated for coronavirus in the United Arab Emirates. According to El Mundo and El Confidencial, Princess Elena (centre), 57, and Princess Cristina (second from right), 55, got the jabs last month while visiting their father, former king Juan Carlos, in Abu Dhabi. Pictured L-R: Spanish King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, Princess Elena, Princess Cristina and her husband Inaki Urdangarin [File photo]

Podemos, a hard-left party that forms part of Spain's coalition and is staunchly anti-monarchist, said such 'privileges' served to 'discredit' the monarchy.

'The vaccination of the princesses is more new which contributes to discrediting the monarchy. For the public this constitutes preferential treatment and privileges,' Equality Minister and Podemos member Irene Montero told public television TVE. 

The monarchy is one of several issues dividing Podemos and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists, which have governed in a coalition since January 2020.

A spokesman for the royal palace refused to comment on Wednesday's reports on the grounds that the princesses are formally 'not part' of the institution and the palace has no say in their activities. The princesses are the sisters of King Felipe VI (pictured)

The controversy over the vaccinations is the latest blow to Spain's embattled monarchy.     

Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014, has been living in the UAE since he left Spain in  August amid growing questions over his financial dealings.    

Last week, he settled a debt of nearly 4.4million euros (£3.8million) with the Spanish tax authorities in a bid to avoid a potential lawsuit.

The back-taxes were due on the previously undeclared value of private jet flights - worth eight million euros, according to press reports - paid by a foundation based in Liechtenstein belonging to a distant cousin of Juan Carlos.

Juan Carlos (pictured), who abdicated in 2014, has been living in the UAE since he left Spain in August amid growing questions over his financial dealings [File photo]

The payment caused outrage in Spain, with Sanchez saying he shared the 'rejection' which the 'majority' of Spaniards feel towards what he called Juan Carlos' 'uncivic behaviour'.

The country's former intelligence chief, Felix Sanz Roldan, also received the coronavirus vaccine in Abu Dhabi during a visit to Juan Carlos, according to Spanish media reports.

Spain's chief of defence staff resigned in January after it was revealed that he got the coronavirus jab in Spain despite not being on a priority list.

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