In the funeral of a queen, the kings, reigning, emeritus or non-reigning, and more if they are relatives, have preference. Yesterday, the British protocol made possible the first image, in several years, of the Kings, Felipe and Letizia, along with Juan Carlos and Sofía, who sat together at the funeral ceremony with members of other European royal houses. From Margaret of Denmark to Simeon of Bulgaria, everyone stood in the same group in front of the British royal family, on either side of Elizabeth II's coffin.
For several days, the Zarzuela, which had no intervention in the distribution of seats, knew the position that both the current kings and the previous ones were going to occupy in the abbey, knowing that beyond their status as heads of state, the reigning monarchs of Europe went first because they were heads of a royal house. Hence, other heads of state, such as the president of the United States, France or Portugal, among others, occupied another block of banks within the abbey and non-European sovereigns, such as the emperor of Japan or the king of Jordan, will be placed next to members of other dynasties behind the European royalty.
Queen Margaret of Denmark, dean and only woman among the kings of Europe, took first place along with her son and heir, Prince Frederick. Next to her, the kings Carlos Gustavo and Silvia of Sweden and then, in the same first bank, the kings of Holland, Guillermo and Máxima, accompanied by the former sovereign, now Princess Beatriz. The Danish sovereign, the former Dutch monarch and the deceased shared, for decades, their status as titular queens and established a relationship of complicity based on their shared status.
In the second row, from left to right, sat Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía, followed by Kings Harald and Sonia of Norway. The third row went to the Kings of Belgium, Felipe and Matilda, the Grand Dukes of Luxembourg, Enrique and María Teresa, and the Princes of Monaco, Alberto and Charlene. Next to him, Simeon of Bulgaria, who was an ephemeral king as a child, and, behind him, Ana Maria of Greece, wife of King Constantine, whose state of health did not allow her to attend the funeral, accompanied by the princes Pablo and Marie Chantal and the Prince Alexander of Serbia. Neither Bulgaria, nor Greece, nor Serbia are monarchies and, in fact, in another block of funeral attendees were representatives of the government of those countries.
The configuration of the group of royalty, first the reigning Europeans or not, and then other sovereigns or princes, including the King of Tonga, is understood to be that of Elizabeth II, the funeral of a member of a royal family and, in addition, of a reigning sovereign by which they are distinguished, above other elected dignitaries.
Before the start of the funeral, the Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, who accompanied the King and Queen in London, outlined the Government's position, recalling that Felipe VI, as the head of state, "represents Spain", while that the presence of the king emeritus responded "to an invitation in a personal capacity". At the time he made these statements, the Foreign Minister already knew, through the mouth of the British and Spanish protocol services, that the King and Queen were going to sit in the abbey together with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. The four were officially invited by the British royal house in his capacity as head of state, former head of state and his consorts, through the Foreign Office and the Spanish embassy in the United Kingdom.
In addition to sitting together at the funeral, the four kings coincided last Sunday at the reception offered by King Charles III to all the dignitaries who had traveled to London for the funeral of the one who was queen for seven decades, although they entered separately to Buckingham Palace. The King and his father have spoken these days, both at the reception at Buckingham Palace and yesterday, at the exit of the funeral, but they could not hold a meeting alone with each other, due to the invitation that Carlos III extended at the last minute to his royal relatives, to attend the ceremony that was to be held in Windsor.
The King and Queen Sofía attended together the family religious service that took place in the chapel of San Jorge, before the burial of Isabel II, but King Juan Carlos declined King Carlos's invitation, since it coincided with the time he was scheduled to fly to Abu Dhabi. Queen Letizia could not be present either, since also in the middle of the afternoon, she undertook, on a commercial flight, a trip to New York, where in the next few days she will attend various events convened by Unicef and the FAO within the scope of the General Assembly of The United Nations.