Ex-King Juan Carlos’ attendance at queen’s funeral draws scorn from Spanish left

Spain’s former King Juan Carlos and Spain’s former Queen Sofia arrive to take their seats at Westminster Abbey in London September 19, 2022 for the state funeral service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II – Heads of state from around the world will attend Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral II. participate. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honored with a state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday morning. MARCO BERTORELLO/Pool via REUTERS

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LONDON, September 19 (Reuters) – The presence of disgraced former King Juan Carlos at Britain’s Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral has sparked criticism at home, with one political party branding him a “criminal on the run”.

Spain’s official delegation is led by King Felipe and his wife Queen Letizia. Felipe ascended the throne when his father abdicated in 2014 amid a series of scandals.

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But Juan Carlos, who was related to the late Queen Elizabeth, received a private invitation to attend, a UK government source confirmed.

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His participation alongside the official Spanish delegation raised eyebrows as he now lives in exile in Abu Dhabi.

On Sunday, Juan Carlos, 84, and his estranged wife Queen Sofia were photographed at a reception at Buckingham Palace in London.

The Spanish royal court said Sofia, who still lives in Spain, would travel to London with the king and queen but instead of joining them at the Spanish embassy, ​​she would be staying in the same hotel as her husband “for logistical and organizational reasons”. Juan Carlos stay. .

A Spanish government source told Reuters that the Spanish royal household has made preparations for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. “We left it up to them,” the source said.

Once revered for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy, Juan Carlos’ popularity plummeted amid financial scandals and public outrage over an elephant-hunting trip to Africa.

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Spanish prosecutors investigated allegations of fraud in Spain and Switzerland, but the investigation was dropped due to insufficient evidence and the statute of limitations. Juan Carlos declined to comment on the various allegations of misconduct.

However, he could face a court in Britain in a harassment case brought against him by his former lover Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. He has denied the allegations.

The left-wing Unidas Podemos, the junior party in Spain’s coalition government, criticized the former king’s presence at the funeral.

“Inviting a fugitive to a state funeral shows you what the monarchy is like in the UK and Spain,” Podemos spokesman Pablo Echenique said at a news conference last week.

Gerardo Pisarello, a member of the Spanish parliament representing Podemos’ Catalan party En Comú Podem, told Spanish news website El Debate that monarchies are “archaic and anachronistic”. He added in a speech to the Spanish Congress on Monday: “Enough of fooling people with fairy tales about the monarchy (British and Spanish), there’s a lot of black history around them.”

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Juan Carlos and Queen Elizabeth were related as both were great-great grandchildren of Britain’s Queen Victoria.

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Reporting by Angus MacSwan, Graham Keeley and Belen Carreno; Edited by Alex Richardson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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