Spain's royal family found itself embroiled in a controversy over the use of firearms by minors yesterday after King Juan Carlos's 13-year-old grandson accidentally shot himself in the foot with a small-bore rifle.
Felipe Juan Froilan, fifth in line to the throne, suffered what a royal spokesman said was "a minor accident" when the weapon misfired, injuring his toes. He was apparently doing shooting practice in a family estate near Madrid with his father, Jaime de Marichalar, who is divorced from the king's eldest daughter, Elena.
Felipe is reported to be recovering well after a night in a Madrid hospital and a minor operation. Spanish newspaper El Pais cited police sources as saying his handling of the weapon was a "serious infringement" of firearms regulations, which states that under-14-year-olds cannot use guns.
According to Spanish law, should a judge deem an investigation necessary after receiving a medical report, Mr De Marichalar would almost certainly be questioned by police. An infringement of firearms regulations can incur fines of up to €3,000, the loss of a firearms licence and the confiscation of the weapon, Spanish media sources said.
Princess Elena said last night that her son was well, "playing with his mobile phone" and that "children always give you scares".
However, she was notably less communicative when it came to giving details of how the accident happened.