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 in Spain – have sparked controversy since the news was first reported by the digital newspaper El Confidencial in Madrid.

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

Shortly after the criticism, Princess Elena made a statement describing it as “responding to media reports about the vaccination”.

“My sister (Cristina) and I, who had visited our father (in Abu Dhabi) and had a health passport with which we could visit him regularly, received the vaccine and accepted it.”

The statement concluded that, without the circumstances, the princesses would have waited for their turn to receive the vaccine in Spain.

A spokesman for the royal household noted that Princesses Elena and Cristina, while the sisters of King Felipe of Spain, have had no official duties as members of the royal family since at least 2014.

The spokesman also stressed that the king, queen and their two daughters will strictly follow Spanish Covid health guidelines and will wait for the vaccinations in Spain depending on their age and health.

Spain, like other EU countries, has had delays in its vaccination program due to limited supplies. It has also seen a number of government officials and some Roman Catholic clergymen queue up to get vaccinations. Some of them later publicly apologized and some resigned from their positions.

Health ministry data shows that only 1.4 million people in Spain have received both doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, along with some others receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of a population of around 47 million.

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