Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The queen looking over her shoulder

For the first time in almost ten years, Queen Sofia of Spain and the Princess of Asturias have attended a joint engagement by themselves within the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid.  The queen and the queen in waiting were presenting decorations of the Civil Order of Social Solidarity at a special ceremony.  And while the whole event may have lasted around an hour, it's re-opened a debate that's been going for almost a decade.

Sofia, Queen of Spain and Letizia, Princess of Asturias at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on January 14th 2014

When Letizia Ortiz Rocosolano became the fiancee of Prince Felipe in November 2003 one of the first things she was asked when the couple met the press at their engagement event was how she would prepare to be a consort.  And she mentioned the example of the queen - called by Juan Carlos I 'the great professional'.  But in the intervening years there have been just handful of public engagements shared by these two royal women and all of them have been out and about.  The main one - for the Red Cross every autumn - also involves other royals, particularly the Infanta Elena.  So to see the two generations of Spanish consorts on a joint mission is a surprise a long time in the making.  

It might just be the light but Queen Sofia seems to have matched her hair to her daughter-in-law's outfit

As the Spanish monarchy faces yet more difficult days - the Infanta Cristina will now appear in court to answer questions linked to allegations of money laundering and fraud on February 8th - the unified image of the two most important women in the country's royal household couldn't come at a better moment.  It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a new working relationship between Queen Sofia and Princess Letizia - the princess has faced criticisms over her lack of an independent agenda amongst other things.  But after a decade, the queen in waiting is standing at the shoulder of the queen consort.

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