- Princesses Elena and Cristina of Spain jumped the line for a COVID-19 shot by getting it in Abu Dhabi.
- They were not eligible for a vaccine back home at the time. They are still ineligible.
- They said they received their shots in February during a visit to their exiled father in February.
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Two Spanish princesses are facing criticism for getting their COVID-19 vaccines in the United Arab Emirates months before they would have been eligible at home.
Princesses Elena and Cristina received the shot on a visit to see their exiled father, the former King Juan Carlos I, in Abu Dhabi in mid-February, El Confidencial reported.
Spain began vaccinating people over the age of 80, some medical workers, and care home residents in mid-February, according to El País. There is no current set date for when Elena and Cristina, aged 57 and 55 respectively, would be eligible.
The pair told El Mundo that getting the vaccine was a condition of being able to visit their father in the emirate, and were offered it when they arrived in the UAE.
“Both my sister and I have come to visit our father and, in order to have a health passport that would allow us to do it regularly, we were offered the possibility of getting vaccinated, to which we agreed,” the sisters said in the jointly-signed statement to the newspaper.
Otherwise, they would have waited their turn in Spain, they said.
The episode has nonetheless caused a backlash, with the country’s minister of equality Irene Montero telling the public TV network RTVE that it contributed to “the discrediting of the institution of the monarchy,” that could lead to people questioning the usefulness of royalty.
As daughters of Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in 2014, Elena and Cristina are not official members of the Spanish royal family. The royal household declined to comment on the situation, according to El Confidencial.
Juan Carlos I moved to Abu Dhabi in August 2020 amid mounting scandal around his business dealings, according to The Washington Post. He abdicated amid a long-running corruption investigation and now uses the title of “Emeritus King,” the BBC reported.