As the impact of King Juan Carlos’ Monday abdication announcement continued to reverberate, Queen Sofía was in New York on Tuesday, continuing with her official diary of engagements, which was fixed some time ago.
She is in the Big Apple to head up the campaign to win Spain a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. Not given to making public statements, she broke protocol this week to communicate some words of calm and normality to reporters about the succession process. “I feel the same as always,” she said. “Everything is going to carry on as it is. The continuity is my son, who is already aware of everything. There is no problem with the change.”
Queen Sofía is excited now that the moment for which Prince Felipe has been educated – a process that she herself has supervised – has arrived. “I am completely calm,” she said,
The queen mother or the mother of the king – they can call me whatever they want”
The queen also played down the question of how she would be treated once the abdication is complete. Asked whether she would prefer to be called the queen mother or the mother of the king, she replied: “They can call me whatever they want.”
Answering a question about what advice she would give to Spain’s future queen, Princess Letizia, she said: “To continue as she is. She is very competent and charming, and I love her very much.”
She also brushed away a tougher final question about whether she was worried about the possibility of a referendum on the monarchy: “I’m not going to enter into that,” she said.
Afterwards, Queen Sofía went on to resume her schedule for the day, speaking at the opening of the annual session of the Unicef executive board, whose first debate focused on the state of childhood in Africa, a continent close to her heart and whose votes will be key in the UN Security Council poll, which is scheduled for October 14 and 15.
The battles to occupy one of the 10 rotating seats on the council are getting closer and closer. Spain is vying with Turkey and New Zealand for one of the posts reserved for the West, which will be available for 2015 and 2016. The budget is limited, which is why it is calling upon its best diplomatic asset.
Later, Queen Sofía, who has been honorary president of the Spanish Unicef Committee since 1971, met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who paid tribute to King Juan Carlos’ “outstanding public service” during his 39-year reign, and highlighted his “instrumental role” in Spain’s transition to democracy. He also expressed his gratitude for the monarch’s work with the United Nations and wished Prince Felipe “much success.”