MADRID (Reuters) – The sisters of Spain’s King Felipe were vaccinated in Abu Dhabi last month while visiting their father who is living in self-imposed exile, online newspaper El Confidencial reported on Wednesday, sparking outrage at home where most Spaniards are still awaiting their shots.
Elena de Borbon and her sister Cristina visited former king Juan Carlos who has been in the United Arab Emirates since leaving Spain in August under a cloud of scandal.
“These women don’t have any right to privileges that the rest of us don’t have,” said Ricardo Jimenez, out walking by the royal palace in Madrid. “I have the same right as them, or more, to be vaccinated.”
The UAE says it only vaccinates residents and citizens with valid identification cards. According to Our World in Data, about 60% of the population has received a vaccine.
El Mundo newspaper cited a statement from the princesses as saying that they were offered the vaccine to gain a “health passport”, allowing them to visit their father more regularly, and that otherwise they would have awaited their turn in Spain.
Cristina’s lawyer had no comment. Fundacion Mapfre, the Madrid-based social and cultural branch of insurance company Mapfre where Elena works, also declined to comment.
Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz criticised the two for taking the shot while so many in Spain are still waiting.
“It is very unpleasant, very ugly,” she told state broadcaster RTVE. “We, the people who exercise some sort of representation, must lead by example.”
Spain aims to have 70% of its 47 million population inoculated by summer, but only 1.3 million have been fully vaccinated so far.
The outcry arose after many local politicians and high-ranking military officials were outed as having jumped the vaccination queue, triggering a wave of resignations.
A palace source said the king’s sisters were not its concern as they were no longer technically part of the royal family since their father abdicated. The king, Queen Letizia and their daughters would get their shots when it was their turn.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Inti Landauro Editing by Nathan Allen, Mark Heinrich and Giles Elgood)