4 moments in Queen Sofía’s life that caused controversy

Queen Sofía turns 80 this year. Carlos Alvarez /GettyImages

It’s fair to say that the Spanish royal family has been plagued by their share of scandals and divisions.

From the Duke of Palma’s case of tax evasion to the 2014 abdication of its once-popular King Juan Carlos, the family has consistently made fiery headlines.

Throughout all the turmoil, however, Queen Sofía has lived a rather reserved life, often separating herself from the scandals of the family that surrounds her.

This, however, is not to say that her 56 years under the title “Queen” hasn’t invited controversies. From her awkward encounters with her daughter-in-law to her confrontation with an online adultery agency, here are four moments throughout Queen Sofía’s royal life that have caused some backlash and controversies.

In 2008, a Spanish book quoted the Queen making controversial statements on a number of social issues.

Queen Sofía was met with backlash for her reported comments. Junko Kimura /Getty

In 2008, journalist Pilar Urbano, released the book “La Reina muy de cerca,” or “The Queen, very close up,” in which she quoted Queen Sofia as taking a stance on a number of social issues.

On same-sex marriage, according to the book, she said, “If those persons want to live together, dress up as bride and groom and get married, they can do so, but that should not be called marriage because it is not.”

In the book, Queen Sofia is also quoted as saying she opposes abortion and euthanasia.

What the queen said is what my book says,” Urbano said, according to the New York Times.

The Royal Palace, however, challenged the comments saying in a statement they “do not correspond exactly” with what she said.

Spain legalised same-sex marriage in 2005, becoming one of the few countries in the world to recognise same-sex couples as having the same rights as heterosexual ones, including the right to adopt children. Many people were appalled by the queen’s implied criticism of these laws.

In 2012, Queen Sofía’s face was used on the online adultery agency Ashley Madison.

The Queen disapproved of the advertisement. Robert Marquardt /GettyImages

In 2013, Queen Sofía was displeased when the US-based online adultery agency, Ashley Madison, used a photograph of her in a series of advertisements in 2012.

She took legal action against the agency citing “damage to her honour and dignity,” when they published a photoshopped picture of the Queen smiling with her arms around a shirtless young man: beneath the slogan in Spanish: “You no longer have to spend the night alone.”

In 2013, the Telegraph reported that the company issued a personal apology to Queen Sofia and promised never to use her image again. She had never asked for monetary damages, only an apology.

It appears the ad was a reference to her husband’s alleged infidelity.

Although not her own scandal, the Queen refused to break off contact with her daughter’s family amid tax evasion allegations.

The Queen’s son-in-law was sentenced for evading taxes and other charges. Carlos Alvarez / GettyImages

Beginning in 2012, Iñaki Urdangarin faced charges for using his former title of Duke of Palma to embezzle about €6 million ($US6.6 million) in public funds for sporting events. Urdangarin is a former handball player and husband of the infanta of Spain, Cristina de Borbón, who is the daughter of King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia.

Throughout this time, many commented that Queen Sofía seemed to show continued support for her son-in-law. She even allowed Hola magazine to publish pictures of her visiting them at their home in the US, according to The Guardian.

A study discussing the media’s portrayal of Queen Sofía said, “Although the King said publicly that everyone was equal before the law, the Queen refused to break off contact with her daughter’s family.”

In 2017, Urdangarin was found guilty of evading taxes, fraud, and various other charges and sentenced to six years and three months. In an appeal, however, the Spanish Supreme Court changed this on June 12 into a term of five years and 10 months.

Tense footage emerged in April 2018 of Queen Sofía and Queen Letizia.

Euro News captured the moment. Screen Grab/Euro News/YouTube

In April, the Spanish queen made headlines when footage emerged of an apparent tense encounter between her and her daughter-in-law, Queen Letizia, on Easter Sunday.

In the video, Queen Sofía has her arm around her granddaughters in what looks like an attempt to pose for a photo. Queen Letizia, however, appears to block the photo and emerges toward her daughter, Princess Leonor, only to have Queen Sofía swipe Queen Letizia’s hand away.

It’s unclear what the moment was about, but it made international headlines. It caused such a stir, in fact, that a spokesperson for Queen Letizia made a statement:

“She is very committed to taking care of her daughters, with the protection of their image, she worries who takes photos of them, she worries where they come from, who approaches them. It’s a very motherly reaction.”

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