A casual observer seeing Queen Sofia of Spain waving in greeting to supporters outside a Madrid hospital might assume she was arriving for an official engagement.
In reality, the royal was visiting her husband King Juan Carlos who had an emergency hip operation in the early hours Saturday after a fall during a private holiday in Africa.
PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
The smile of this consummate professional belied the fact that it”s been an extremely difficult year for their family.
She had been due to return from spending Easter in her native Greece to visit another relative – their 13-year-old grandson Felipe Juan Froilan.
A few days ago the teenager, who is the son of their daughter Elena, accidentally shot himself in the foot during target practice.
Meanwhile, their son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin, the husband of their other daughter Cristina, is at the centre of a corruption investigation relating to business activities in Majorca.
This latest setback for the royals came in Botswana, where the 74-year-old had been on a private hunting trip.
Don Juan Carlos, as he is respectfully called in his country, was flown back by private jet for the two hour operation in Hospital San Jose.
The palace said: “The king suffered a fracture of his right hip in three pieces, linked to arthritis. A hip replacement was carried out.”
While he is out of action his duties will be carried out by his son Crown Prince Felipe.