KING Juan Carlos broke with tradition this year and failed to attend the annual celebration of Easter Mass in Palma, royal household sources confirmed yesterday.

Doña Letizia, Princess of Asturias and wife to the heir to the Spanish throne Prince Felipe, when asked last week whether she would be attending Easter Mass at the Cathedral in Palma with her husband and two daughters Leonor and Sofía, reportedly replied that she didn't know but that if she was not able to attend, nothing significant would happen because “traditions were made to be broken”.

Her prophecy came true but in another fashion because it was her father-in-law, the King, who was not with the royal party when they arrived outside the cathedral on Sunday morning, officially greeted by the Bishop of Majorca, Jesús Murgui.

Rumours - not heeded in some quarters - were rife at the Zarzuela palace in Madrid that the king, Don Juan Carlos, had not come to Majorca for Easter because he was busy preparing for the official visit to Spain of the Emir of Qatar.

In the King's absence, leading the royal party in Palma for the Easter Mass this year were the Queen, Doña Sofía, her daughters, the Infantas Cristina and Elena, and her son Prince Felipe with his wife, Doña Letizia and two daughters Leonor and Sofía.

Behind barriers erected around the approach to the Cathedral on Sunday morning were crowds of well-wishers, calling out greetings to the royals and taking photos. Queen Sofía acknowledged cries of “Long Live the Queen!” The morning was cloudy but Doña Sofía sported an elegant marine blue two-piece suit with a bold floral design, complemented by a red brooch. Her daughter, the Infanta Cristina wore a simply cut red dress whilst her sister the Infanta Elena and sister-in-law Doña Letizia had chosen trouser and jacket combinations.

The royal grandchildren, Leonor and Sofía were dressed in spring floral prints and cardigans, with matchings socks and shoes.
Prince Felipe, in a plain grey suit, fussed over his daughters as did the Bishop, Jesús Murgui who received all members of the royal family with particular warmth.

After the service in the Cathedral, the Infanta Cristina bade goodbye to her family prior to returning to the royal residence as she was committed to returning directly to Barcelona to attend the final of the Conde de Godó tennis trophy. The competition was eventually won by Majorcan world tennis ace Rafael Nadal who was awarded the trophy by the Infanta.