Spanish king's sisters spark outcry by getting early vaccine in Abu Dhabi
MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish King Felipe's sisters were vaccinated against the coronavirus in Abu Dhabi last month when they were visiting their father, the online newspaper El Confidencial reported on Wednesday, causing outrage at home where most Spaniards are still going Shots are waiting.
Elena de Borbon and her sister Cristina visited the former King Juan Carlos, who has lived in the United Arab Emirates since he left Spain in August.
It was not clear how the two got their shots as the UAE only offers free COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and citizens and requires a valid ID. According to World in Data statistics, up to 60% of the UAE's population has received a vaccine to date.
"It's very uncomfortable, very ugly," said Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz to Spanish state television TVE. "We, the people who exercise any kind of representation, have to lead by example."
She said it was not right for the royals to be vaccinated while in Spain many medical professionals and vulnerable people are still waiting to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Cristina's law firm did not respond to a request for comment, while Fundacion Mapfre, the Madrid-based social and cultural division of the Mapfre insurance company where Elena de Borbon works, declined to comment.
Spain aims to vaccinate 70% of its 47 million population by the summer, but so far only 1.3 million have been fully vaccinated, which is about 2.7% of the total population.
The authorities work in priority groups of the most vulnerable members of society. People over 80 and key employees such as police officers and teachers are currently receiving shots.
57-year-old Elena de Borbon should wait a few weeks to get vaccinated in Spain while her sister is officially living in Switzerland.
The outcry came after many local politicians and senior military officials were classified as victims of the vaccination line, sparking a wave of resignations.
A palace source said the king's sisters were not her concern as they technically no longer belonged to the royal family since their father's abdication. The King, Queen Letizia and their daughters would get the shots when it was their turn.
The controversy will do nothing to defuse popular anger against Juan Carlos, who abdicated in several scandals in 2014. The Supreme Court prosecutor has opened multiple investigations into his business relationships, including one related to a billion dollar high-speed train deal in Saudi Arabia.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Inti Landauro editing by Nathan Allen and Mark Heinrich)
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