Sofia of Spain: 84-year-old Queen Mother publicly breaks down amid reports she's not invited to Princess Leonor's swearing-in ceremony

queen Sofia of spain

Queen Sofia of Spain broke down in tears - amid reports she is not invited to her granddaughter Princess Leonor's swearing-in ceremony at Congress - after she offered her 'most sincere congratulations' to physicist Emilio Lora-Tamayo on Friday as he was named honorary rector for life by the Camilo José Cela University in Madrid.

In a rare emotional moment, the 84-year-old became tearful while paying tribute to the university professor in her speech. According to local media reports, the pair are said to have maintained a friendship for years.

Because Sofia has always been a model of emotional restraint and self-control - to the extent that her face is considered like a statue, Sofia suddenly became emotional last Friday at the event in honour of the physicist and university professor, former president of the Supreme Council of Scientific Research of Spain.

The royal and Lora-Tamayo, 73, who must use an oxygen mask and a wheelchair due to his poor health, held hands with one another as they left the event.

Sofia's emotional outburst comes amid reports that King Felipe VI of Spain's mother has not been invited to Princess Leonor's swearing-in ceremony at Congress on October 31, the day when the heir to the Spanish throne turns 18.

Sources in Zarzuela Palace told Spanish newspaper El País that Sofia will not accompany King Felipe and Queen Letizia to the historic occasion - 'so as not to make distinctions with Juan Carlos I'.

The palace is reportedly trying to avoid the controversial former king, who abdicated in favour of his son Felipe in 2014, stealing the spotlight when he arrives in the Spanish capital 'for just seven hours'.

While neither Juan Carlos, who lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates, or Sofia will be at the public engagements tomorrow, both are set to attend the private family celebrations after the event.

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Palace sources said the 'solution was closed by mutual agreement from the first moment' between Juan Carlos and Felipe, according to El Debate.

Juan Carlos was once one of Spain's most respected public figures for his role in the country's return to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

But scandals involving Spain's royal family began to mount in the later years of his reign, leading him to step down in favour of his son, King Felipe.

Earlier this month, he won a bid to end a £126million High Court battle with his Danish ex-lover who accused him of spying on and harassing her.

Danish businesswoman Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, who is in her late 50s, claimed the former royal had caused her 'great mental pain'.

Juan Carlos, 85, has denied wrongdoing and disputed the claims made against him, arguing they are not 'viable'.

In a judgment at the High Court in London, Justice Rowena Collins Rice said the court 'lacks jurisdiction to try this claim' because it was brought against the defendant outside of his country of domicile.

She added that Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn 'has not sufficiently established that the "harmful event" of which she complains – harassment by the defendant – happened in England'.

In a statement, Juan Carlos said he welcomed the judge's decision. Meanwhile, Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn said she was 'deeply disappointed'.

When Juan Carlos stepped down, he told his subjects: 'I have decided to end my reign and abdicate the crown of Spain. A new generation is quite rightly demanding to take the lead role.'

On the way out, he also took a swipe at the then Prince Charles, saying: 'We do not want my son to wither waiting like Prince Charles.'

In August 2020, after six years out of the spotlight, Juan Carlos opted to leave Spain, saying he did not want his personal affairs to undermine his son King Felipe VI's reign.

Earlier that year, his son had stripped him of an annual allowance of nearly 200,000 euros as details of his financial dealings emerged.

And Spain's Supreme Court had launched an investigation just two months before his departure into his alleged involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia.

The late Saudi king Abdullah allegedly deposited £77million (85million euros) into a Swiss bank account that Juan Carlos was said to have access to. However, the case was ultimately dropped.

Last September Juan Carlos attended Queen Elizabeth II's funeral at Westminster Abbey, reportedly in defiance of the wishes of the Spanish government and his own son.

Juan Carlos' granddaughter Leonor, who is formally titled Princess of Asturias, will swear allegiance to the Spanish constitution on Tuesday as she marks her 18th birthday.

Despite sharp political divisions, reports from Spain suggest the country is largely united behind the young princess, who is currently undergoing military training as Cadet Borbon.

Speaking last week, the princess described the oath-swearing as an honour: 'I very well understand and am aware of what my duty is and what my responsibilities entail,' she told the Spanish public.

If Leonor ascends to the throne, she will make history as Spain's first queen regnant since her fourth great-grandmother Isabella II, who reigned from 1833 to 1868. She will be only the second queen in the history of unified Spain.

Following Leonor in the line of succession is her sister, Princess Sofía, two years her junior.

Meanwhile, Leonor has recently been at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza as she embarks upon three years of training.

In preparation for her role as Spain's head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Leonor must complete the three years in line with tradition as she follows the path of her father, King Felipe.

After training at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza, Spain's equivalent to Sandhurst, she will go to naval school and will complete her three years at the General Air Academy.

The princess revealed her enthusiasm for soon being a cadet at the Princesa de Girona Foundation award ceremony in Girona, Catalonia, on July 5.

She said: 'I have just finished high school and I am about to start a new stage with a period of military training.

'I am happy because I know how much the Spanish value our armed forces... it is an important moment in my life and I feel very excited and determined to continue learning and giving my best effort.'

It was also revealed that the young princess would go on to study law at university once her training with the military is complete, although her choice of university has not yet been revealed.

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