FILE - In this Wednesdday, April 16, 2008 file photo, Spain's Princess Cristina, left and Princess Elena, listen to the Spanish national anthem during a ceremony, upon their arrival for the opening of the Spanish Parliament, after Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist Party won the general elections on March 9, in Madrid. The sisters of Spanish King Felipe VI have acknowledged on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, that they were administered COVID-19 vaccines during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. In a statement published by a Spanish newspaper, the Infantas Elena and Cristina said that they were “offered the possibility” of receiving vaccines while in Abu Dhabi to visit their father and former monarch, Juan Carlos I. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, File)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The sisters of Spanish King Felipe VI acknowledged Wednesday that they got COVID-19 vaccine shots during a visit to the United Arab Emirates to see their father, the former monarch who has faced financial investigations at home.

In a statement published by leading newspaper La Vanguardia, the Infantas Elena, 57, and Cristina, 55, said they were “offered the possibility” of receiving the vaccines while in Abu Dhabi to visit their father, former monarch Juan Carlos I.

The sisters said they agreed to accept the vaccines “with the goal of obtaining a health passport” that would allow them to regularly visit their father, who left Spain in August amid investigations into alleged financial wrongdoing.

Their statement came a day after the Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial reported their vaccinations.

The two women would not have been eligible yet to get COVID-19 vaccinations in Spain. Spain is still only administering vaccines to the very elderly and essential workers, before working its way down to younger age groups. A handful of public officials, including the nation's top military commander, have been forced to resign after they were caught jumping the vaccination queue.

The sisters of Spain’s King Felipe VI are no longer part of the official royal household, which has told Spanish media that the 53-year-old Felipe, Queen Letizia and their two daughters have not yet been vaccinated.

The vaccination by the King’s sisters was widely criticized across Spain, adding another knock to the royals' already-damaged reputation.

Juan Carlos’ move to the UAE, where he has been photographed there in a luxurious hotel, has only further sunk his once-high standing back home. More recently, Spain has been rocked by protests following the imprisonment of a rap artist, in part for having refused to pay a fine for insulting Juan Carlos.

“In Spanish society there is a debate about the usefulness of the monarchy that is growing each time the Royal House offers up a new scandal,” said Pablo Iglesias, a government minister and leader of the junior, far-left party in Spain’s left-wing coalition government.

Miquel Iceta, a minister from the senior, Socialist partner of the governing coalition, said that the infantas’ vaccination was “terrible,” while noting that Felipe and his immediate family “had not committed the same mistake that generates mistrust.”

The conservative Popular Party that leads the parliamentary opposition limited its defense of the royals to saying that the infantas had “not stolen a vaccine from any Spaniard.”


Follow all AP stories on the coronavirus pandemic at