Spain's Felipe VI is different from the rest of the European monarchs, at least in terms of his decision to travel to Qatar and cheer on his country's football team in a World Cup which is being held amid huge criticism of the human rights situation in the country where it is being held. It seems that the rest of the crowned heads of the continent have understood that it is better not to go there, at least during this first phase of groups, but Felipe VI has ignored the negative comments about this country with which he maintains a close relationship: for example, in May, the Emir of Qatar visited Spain and was received at the royal palace, and this Wednesday, as reflected in the monarch's official agenda, he will be in the stands for the Spanish national team's match against Costa Rica. While other monarchies have not said what they will do if their teams make it past their respective group stages, as some might then end up attending matches in the gas-rich Gulf state, Felipe VI has stood out so far. He will not be accompanied on this trip by queen Letizia, who is not much of a fan of sports in general, having been conspicuous by her absence in recent years from the final of the major football competition that she lends her name to, the Queen's Cup.
During the visit of May 2022, the king showed a good rapport with the Emir, who also gave Queen Letizia a pair diamond earrings valued at more than 100,000 euros that she did not hesitate to show off at the dinner gala in honour of the Emir and his wife. This gift, however, was not the only one they exchanged, as Felipe also wanted to make a (much more modest) gesture to his guest, and he could not go past the idea of presenting the Qatari with the shirt of the Spanish national football team, with the gaze already fixed on the holding of this World Cup immersed in criticism. It seems that the possibility of not attending the competition was never considered. In 2014, he had just been proclaimed king and did not attend any World Cup match in Brazil, while in 2018 he did travel to Moscow to attend the Spanish roja match against Russia, in which the Spanish team lost on penalties and was eliminated.
No criticism from the Spanish government
Although some members of the Spanish government, such as the consumer affairs minister, Alberto Garzón, have criticized the holding of this World Cup, the spokesperson for the Pedro Sánchez executive has affirmed that there is no problem with the presence of Felipe VI in Qatar. In fact, according to Isabel Rodríguez, the monarch represents the feelings of the public regarding the support among Spaniards for their national team, emphasizing that there are few elements, apart from football, "that achieve such unanimity of support and union of the population". Thus, no criticism of Felipe VI's presence, while the spokesperson also took the opportunity to wish good luck to Luis Enrique's footballers in this championship.
Message from Prince William in Welsh
For the moment, not Charles of England, Margrethe of Denmark, Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands or Philippe of Belgium have shown any intention to travel to Qatar to support their national teams in a World Cup marked by violations of human rights in Qatar and the death of hundreds of workers in the building of the competition's brand new football stadiums and infrastructure. This does not mean that they have not spoken about it. Without going any further, the Belgian king showed his funniest side in a video together with the players of his national team, taking on the role of team coach, something unthinkable in Spain. In the UK, the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Catherine, were placed in a delicate position by their title, since both England and Wales are taking part in this competition. One of the messages that they published on social media to convey their support to the footballers was in Welsh, on a profile where they have accumulated 2.6 million followers. Something, again, unthinkable in Spain.