Queen Sofía of Spain visited her grandson, Felipe Juan Froilán de Marichalar y Borbón, in hospital following a nearly tragic accident. The youngster had earlier on April 10 discharged a .410 gage shotgun into his right foot at a country estate in the Iberian country. Surgeons performed an operation on the boy’s right foot, which is expected to knit quite nicely following the mishap. According to the hospital, “The wound was cleaned and antibiotics administered.”
Felipe Juan Froilán is the son of Elena, the daughter of the Spanish monarchs, and of her estranged husband Jaime Marichalar. The 13-year-old boy and his father were practicing with their shotguns on the family estate in Soria, a northern province in Spain, on April 9 at around 5 pm local time when the boy suffered what spokepersons of the royals described as “slight accident”. Also with them was Victoria Federica, a younger sister. After the accident, the boy was taken to a clinic in Madrid for surgery at around 10 pm that night. Felipe Juan Froilán is the oldest grandchild of the Spanish king and queen.
The accident has stirred not only sympathy, but also controversy, since it is illegal in Spain for minors under the age of 14 to wield any such arm at that age. Jaime de Marichalar, the father, may have to pay fines of as much as 3,000 euros for the infractions involved.
The shotgun used by the boy is frequently used by children and elders, because it is lighter than other shotguns and has a much reduced recoil upon discharge. These shotguns are normally loaded with cartridges bearing small pellets that are used to bring down small game such as birds and rabbits. Young Felipe Juan Froilán was apparently walking back to his home on the estate with a dual-barrelled shotgun that was pointed towards the ground when it discharged. It is believed that because the distance between the mouth of the barrels and the boy’s foot was so short, the pellets had no chance of spreading out very far. It was thus that there was but one entrance wound and one exit wound in the boy’s foot. He was taken immediately to a local hospital in Soria for first aid, and then taken to Madrid.
Felipe Juan Froilán and Victoria were spending the second week of a vacation with their father, after having spent Holy Week with their mother, Doña Elena. The boy is said to be the favourite grandchild of King Juan Carlos because of the boy’s quick wit and pranks. Queen Sofía visited the boy on April 10 in Madrid. He is expected to remain in the Clínica Quirón hospital for several days.
This is not the first time that a lack of basic firearm safety has brought sadness to the ruling family of Spain. In March 1956, Juan Carlos's younger brother Alfonso died in what is understood to have been an unfortunate accident involving a revolver. The Spanish Embassy in Portugal at the time issued a communiqué at the time declaring “Whilst His Highness Prince Alfonso was cleaning a revolver last evening with his brother, a shot was fired hitting his forehead and killing him in a few minutes. The accident took place at 20.30 hours, after the Infante's (ed. Note: heir apparent) return from the Maundy Thursday religious service, during which he had received Holy Communion.” Rumors became rife that it was then Prince Juan Carlos who had actually discharged the firearm that killed his brother.