For half a century she has been by his side, a quiet, dignified presence through turbulent decades. But now Spain is beginning to ask just how much more Queen Sofia can take.
Against a backdrop of family financial scandal and an increasingly troubled marriage to King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia was counting the days until she could escape to London and attend Friday’s Jubilee banquet at Windsor Castle – an eagerly anticipated family gathering.
Due to increasing pressure from the Spanish government over the ongoing dispute about Gibraltar, the Queen was forced to cancel her trip to the Uk to attend the banquet.
There is increasing tension between the two nations due to an ongoing row over fishing rights.
And also the Spanish are not at all happy about the up and coming trip of Prince Edward and Sofie, the Count and Countess of Wessex, to the Rock in June.
There are those that believe Gibraltar is not a “disputed territory”. It is indisputably British, both by bilateral treaties (Utrecht, Seville, Versailles), all of which Spain has signed, as well as by exercise of the right to self-determination, recognised by the UN Charter (also signed by Spain).
The dispute itself stems from 1954, when Franco hijacked Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Gibraltar to precisely the same end.
On Saturday,the Spanish newspaper El Mundo featured a huge picture of the 27 royals, with the headline “The only absence was Cousin Sofia”.
The newspaper also went on to write that due to the close family ties, the Queens may well have been seated together at the banquet table.
It must have been a great blow to Queen Sofia, who was born into the Greek Royal family, and would have been able to spend time with the Duke of Edinburgh’s godfather, her brother King Constantine at the event which was to celebrate Queen Elizabeths’s Diamond Jubilee.
To have not been given permission to attend was cruel. Instead she had to remain loyal to King Juan Carlos and remain quietly by his side.