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Family rally round King of Spain after hip operation

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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.



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 come back from an Easter break in her native Greece to visit another member of the clan in hospital – their 13-year-old grandson Felipe Juan Froilan. A few days ago the teenager, who is the son of their daughter Elena and her ex-husband Jaime de Marichalar,

shot himself

in the foot during target practice. Instead on her return on Monday, the queen found herself checking on the progress of her husband of almost 50 years. The two accidents follow a

corruption investigation

centring on business activities of their son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin, the husband of their other daughter Cristina.


Juan Carlos I must have been hoping he could put his worries behind him on a private hunting trip to Botswana.Although the royal family did not confirm the reason for his trip, the country is known as a destination for elephant hunting.This has led to questions over the holiday because the monarch is honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Foundation.It was during this visit that the 74-year-old fell down a flight of stairs and had to be flown back by private jet for a 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

, (pictured above with his family).

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