King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia marked their 50th wedding anniversary at home today with their daughters, Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina.
Juan Carlos, then Prince of Spain, and Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark, daughter of the Hellenic Monarchs, married in Athens on May 14, 1962. They went through Catholic and Orthodox ceremonies to appease religious and political leaders in each country.
Contrary to tradition, Juan Carlos was formally called Prince of Spain and not Prince of Asturias. That’s because by calling him the latter, dictator Francisco Franco would have legitimized Juan Carlos’ father as rightful King of Spain. Don Juan de Borbón y Battenberg was living in exile in Portugal.
The wedding, which some critics compare to a “contract,” was important for both royal houses. Greek Queen Frederica of Hanover wanted her daughter Sofia to find a prince that could make her queen someday. At the same time, Prince Juan Carlos needed someone who could help him restore Spain’s monarchy.
Historians consider the union, and Queen Frederica’s counsel, essential to helping Juan Carlos succeed General Franco as Spanish head of state. Even though Franco had been grooming the Prince for years, nobody knew if Juan Carlos would actually manage to become King.
Franco, who spied on the young couple living at the Zarzuela Palace near the Generalissimo’s own residence of El Pardo Palace, wanted to make sure Juan Carlos would continue his nationalist movement. At the same time, the world’s leaders were wary of the young prince’s commitment to Democracy. And his father in Portugal wanted to become king himself.
Spanish Television aired this mini-documentary on the wedding, which was produced in 2002 for the King and Queen’s 40th wedding anniversary.
Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Plama, arrived in Spain this weekend with her children on time for her father-in-law’s funeral in the Basque County.
Juan María Urdangarín, father of Iñaki Urdangarín, the Duke of Palma, died Thursday. The former businessman was once president of Caja Vital savings bank. The ceremony was at the Basílica of San Prudencio de Armentia near Vitoria.
Media reports indicate that Doña Cristina visited her father, the King, at Zarzuela Palace near Madrid before making her way north. It is the first time the Urdangarín children have been in Spain for months, according to the reports.
Queen Sofia and Infanta Elena visited the family on Friday to pay their respects.
The British press has confirmed that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia will not be celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary.
The Daily Mail, citing Royal Household sources, said no private or public parties are planned.
The news appears to be getting more attention abroad than in Spain, where the media often refrain from being too critical of the Monarch, especially when it comes to private issues.
Global media outlets have been reporting allegations that King Juan Carlos has been with many other women. And Spanish media noted the Queen’s short hospital visit when her husband was recovering from hip replacement surgery.
Juan María Urdangarín, father of Iñaki Urdangarín, the Duke of Palma, died Thursday at 79 in his native Basque Country. The former businessman had been ill for several months, according to media reports.
Queen Sofia and Infanta Elena will travel to Vitoria on Friday to be with the family. The Duke traveled to Spain from Washington earlier this week. Infanta Cristina, the Duchess of Palma, is also making her way to join her husband.
Update: Earlier this week, the Duchess visited the National Gallery of Art on Washington, D.C., where this blog originates. She went after-hours for a Joan Miró exhibit.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia visited the Basque Country today to commemorate Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, where leaders handed out gold medals to various groups.
This year’s event was in Álava to mark the 140th anniversary of the Red Cross there. Royal trips to the Basque Country are notable because many residents, particularly nationalists and separatists, having mixed feelings about the Monarchy.
The Prince also traveled to Bucharest for the UEFA Europe League final between Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. He traveled with Basque Autonomous Community President Patxi López.
Last month Prince Felipe appeared to sound off on Argentina’s nationalization of a subsidiary of Spanish oil giant Repsol.
During the inauguration of the company’s refinery expansion in Cartagena, Spain, the Prince of Asturias thanked Repsol “for all it does and has done — which is a lot — for the welfare of numerous countries.”
He also expressed support for workers in and outside of Spain. The comments came just hours after Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said her country would take a majority stake in Repsol’s YPF.
The refinery project represents the most significant industrial investment in Spanish history. The Prince said the facility would be among Europe’s finest and most technologically advanced.
Nationalist leaders of the small Catalonian town of Berga, near the Franch border, have declared King Juan Carlos unwelcome in their community, the Associated Press is reporting. Council members passed a resolution to that effect in recent days.
Global outlets are linking the news to the King’s recent troubles. However, it is not uncommon for separatists or anti-monarchist groups to do such things. Last year, for example, Basque nationalists removed Don Juan Carlos’ portrait from the San Sebastian council chambers.
While the King is largely responsible for helping communities like Catalonia and the Basque Country regain their autonomy, many people there are still bitter about repression during Franco’s regime.
Meanwhile, leaks and rumors continue in the corruption scandal of Iñaki Urdangarín, the Duke of Palma de Mallorca. El Pais is reporting that ex-partner Diego Torres is gearing up to air the King’s connections to the Duke’s business dealings, which are under the microscope.
Torres’ attorney is denying that his client is asking for money in exchange for silence. The Royal Household appears confident that, however the Duke comes out of the investigation, nobody else in the family will be tied to the situation.
El Pais also profiled Queen Sofia’s sister, Irene of Greece and Denmark, in advance of her upcoming 70th birthday. Princess Irene is often known for her eccentric and down-to-earth attitude.