Queen Elizabeth’s funeral provides insight into monarchies in Europe and Asia
And unlike their ancestors centuries past, the proliferation of modern mass media and the digital age now means we know more about these once obscure aristocrats than ever before.
While the tabloids reported on the glamorous arrival of Queen Letizia and King Felipe VI of Spain, the real story was the deliberately separate arrival of the disgraced former King of Spain Juan Carlos at the abbey, despite the fact that the Spanish government would have asked him not to attend.
The former monarch, 84, ended up sitting next to his son, but is currently living in self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi. He abdicated in 2014 amid multiple scandals, including alleged embezzlement, harassment of a former lover and a controversial elephant hunting trip.
Members of the Spanish Royal Family are distant cousins of the Queen and King Felipe VI referred to Her Majesty as ‘dear Aunt Lilibet’ in a personal tribute following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Then there were Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, another blue-blood couple who weathered their fair share of scandals, including explosive revelations in a tell-all biography about the king’s penchant for wild sex parties and strip clubs. They made Fergie’s toe sucking encounter very sweet.
Struggling Monegasque royals Charlene, Princess of Monaco and Prince Albert also traveled to London for the funeral and have been bathed in flashes since former Hollywood siren Grace Kelly married into their ranks .
Queen Mathilde of Belgium and King Philippe – the Queen’s third cousin – had only attended their niece’s royal wedding for a week before stepping back at the royal funeral.
They sat next to the controversial Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and his son, Prince Abdul Mateen.
Queen Rania of Jordan and King Abdullah II – recently embarrassed by revelations of secret Swiss bank accounts where he had hidden hundreds of millions of dollars – also appeared, as did the Queen’s second cousin and Norwegian King Harald V (on crutches) and his wife Queen Sonja, who had her own crisis a few years ago when their son, Crown Prince Haakon, started dating and then married Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, a commoner , single mother and former waitress who had lived a “wild” past.
Living in exile after a military coup half a century ago, the Greek royal family was overthrown, Queen Anne-Marie, Crown Prince Pavlos and Crown Princess Marie-Chantal took the back seats of the ‘royal enclosure near Margareta, guardian of the crown of Romania, and Prince Consort Radu, King Letsie III of Lesotho, Abdullah of Pahang, the current Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, and Queen Tunku Hajah Azizah, the King Tupou VI of Tonga, Prince Alois and Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and, although they never met the Queen, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating and noteworthy appearances was that of the “runaway princess”: Princess Haya bint Hussein of Dubai, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of King Abdullah, who escaped from her ex-husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. Al Maktoum. She was among those invited to the committal service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, which was held a day after her ex-husband met King Charles at Buckingham Palace.
In March 2020, a UK family court judge issued a 34-page judgment in Haya’s child custody claim which revealed that Haya had an affair with a male bodyguard in 2017 or 2018 which led to enraged her husband. She found a gun on her bed with its barrel pointed at the door and the safety lock closed. She also received anonymous notes warning her that “your life is over”.