Spain’s royal family is facing further criticism after reports the former king Juan Carlos’s daughters were vaccinated against Covid-19 while visiting their father in his self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi.
The claims from the news website El Confidencial that the princesses, Cristina, 55, and Elena, 57, had received the vaccine during a visit to the Gulf state last month drew swift rebukes from both main governing parties in a country in which the highly at-risk over-80s are still being vaccinated.
“We want everyone to be equal in this country and this is most disagreeable and unattractive,” Yolanda Díaz, the employment minister, said on Spanish television.
Podemos, the junior partner in the coalition government, said on its Twitter account: “Their privileges go beyond the people they claim to represent.”
The royal household declined to confirm or deny the story, pointing out that the princesses, sisters to King Felipe VI, were not formally part of the royal institution, and that Cristina’s official residence was in Switzerland.
“The king is not responsible for his sisters’ behaviour,” the palace said in a statement.
Felipe stripped Cristina of her title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca after she and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, were tried on charges of fraud and corruption. Cristina was acquitted but Urdangarin was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.
Juan Carlos moved to Abu Dhabi in August to save the royals any further embarrassment after it emerged he was being investigated by the supreme court for the role he played in a Spanish consortium landing a €6.7bn (£5.8bn) contract to build a high-speed rail line between the Saudi cities of Medina and Mecca.
Reports suggested Juan Carlos had received a $100m (£72m) payment from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah in 2008, three years before the contract was awarded.
In November it emerged he was being investigated by the Swiss authorities and then in December he settled an outstanding £600,000 tax bill.
At the end of February he settled a further tax bill, this time for €4.4m, relating to €8m in private jet flights.
According to El País newspaper, Juan Carlos, 83, raised the money through “personal credits” from a number of businesspeople and aristocrats. It is thought he is trying to settle his financial affairs in order to pave the way for a return to Spain.