King Juan Carlos I defies Spanish government to attend state funeral

Disgraced King Juan Carlos of Spain defies government who ‘asked him not to attend’ the Queen’s funeral and arrives with his wife Sofía for the ‘reception of the century’ at Buckingham Palace

  • Former King who abdicated in 2014 arrived at Buckingham Palace this evening
  • He was pictured walking into the palace with Queen Sofía of Spain
  • The Spanish government had allegedly asked Carlos not to attend the funeral
  • Carlos, 84, is awaiting trial in the UK regarding a harassment case 
  • The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage

Disgraced former King Juan Carlos of Spain has arrived at Buckingham Palace ahead of the Queen’s state funeral amid a row over his attendance.

The former monarch, 84, who currently lives in Abu Dhabi, was reportedly asked not to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchéz.

But he was pictured being ushered into the Palace by Queen Sofía while clutching the hand of an official for support ahead of the ‘reception of the century’, where King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla will greet leaders from around the world. 

King Juan Carlos I, 84, was pictured arriving at the ‘reception of the century’ at Buckingham Palace with Queen Sofía amid an alleged row with the Spanish government over his attendance at Her late Majesty’s state funeral

El Debate reported the Spanish government wished for King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia (pictured outside the Spanish Embassy in London today) to attend the state funeral as representatives from Spain

In a row that could drive a wedge between the Spanish government and monarchy, the government reportedly made it clear they wish for King Felipe VI, Carlos’s son, to be the Spanish representative at the state funeral, as his father currently awaits trial in the UK for a harassment case involving an ex-partner. 

El Debate reported 84-year-old King Juan Carlos, the late Queen’s cousin, was privately contacted by Spanish government officials a few days ago to ask him not to attend the service.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia were both pictured outside the Spanish Embassy in London earlier today, after flying into the UK to attend the funeral.

As a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Family extended Carlos an invitation, but photos of the disgraced king at the state funeral would be the first of him captured at a royal event since his abdication — potentially undercutting the position of King Felipe VI, nephew of the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

The  Spanish couple bowed their heads in respect as they made their way from Westminster Hall on Sunday evening

The Spanish King was joined by his wife Queen Letizia. The couple have a good relationship with the British Royal Family

King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain looked dignified as they viewed the Queen’s coffin lying-in-state on Sunday evening

King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain led the foreign royals arriving to pay tribute to the Queen ahead of her funeral tomorrow

King Juan Carlos I, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was invited to the late monarch’s funeral by Buckingham Palace, but the Spanish government has reportedly asked him not to attend

Then king Carlos stepped down after nearly 40 years on the throne in 2014 after his daughter’s husband became embroiled in a controversial elephant hunting scandal. 

Juan Carlos I is awaiting trial in the UK after the country’s High Court ruled he does not have the right to Sovereign Immunity in a case involving the alleged harassment of his ex-lover.

The King allegedly demanded the return of gifts he had given Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 58 when their tryst ended, souring the relationship.

Prosecutors in Switzerland and Spain shelved cases last year after investigated him for suspected money laundering and tax evasion over a separate $100million payment from the Saudi Arabian government.

But the harassment case remains open in the UK — with the royal attempting to appeal the ruling denying him immunity from prosecution because of his regal status.

Carlos had a series of affairs during his time on the Spanish throne.

It’s not the only scandal the former monarch is embroiled in. Spanish investigators are also looking into a missing €600,000 (£520,000) allegedly taken by a close Mexican friend of Juan Carlos I.

Despite once counting himself among the world’s most popular monarchs, polling showed that approximately two-thirds of Spain wanted the king to abdicate when he stepped down — underlining how quickly public opinion can shift.

Juan Carlos returned to Spain for a brief visit in 2022 but has spent the past two years living in exile in Abu Dhabi.

All the trips of Don Juan Carlos makes abroad are carefully observed by Spanish officials, according to El Mundo, with the government keenly aware of the history the monarchy has played in shaping the state.

‘Currently the head of state is Felipe VI and that, like his father, he also represents the existing family ties between the two royal houses,’ said foreign minister José Manuel Albares in an interview last weekend, pushing back on the idea that there was any issue with the previous monarch coming to London. 

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