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Spain’s Princess Elena, left, and Princess Cristina. Ballesteros/Pool/Getty Images

The Covid-19 vaccinations of two Spanish princesses in the United Arab Emirates — much earlier than they would have received them in Spain — have sparked controversy since the news was first reported by El Confidencial digital newspaper in Madrid. 

Several Spanish ministers on Wednesday publicly criticized the two princesses, Elena and Cristina, who were vaccinated recently while visiting their father, Spain’s former King Juan Carlos, in Abu Dhabi, where he’s living.

Soon after the criticism, Princess Elena issued a statement that she said was “in response to media reports about the vaccination.” 

“My sister (Cristina) and I, having gone to visit our father (in Abu Dhabi) and with the aim of getting a health passport that would allow us to visit him regularly, we were offered the vaccine and we accepted it.” 

The statement concluded that had it not been for the circumstances, the princesses would have waited for their turn to get the vaccine in Spain. 

A royal household spokesman noted that princesses Elena and Cristina, while sisters of Spain’s King Felipe, have not had any official duties as members of the royal family at least since 2014.

The spokesman also emphasized that the King, Queen and their two daughters are strictly following Spain’s Covid health guidelines, and “will wait their turn” for the vaccinations in Spain, based on their ages and health conditions. 

Spain, like other European Union countries, has had delays in its vaccine program due to limited supplies. It has also seen a number of government officials and a few Roman Catholic clergy who have jumped the queue to get vaccinations. Several of them later apologized publicly and some resigned from their positions. 

Health Ministry data shows that just 1.4 million people in Spain have received both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, along with some others getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, in a population of about 47 million. 


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