15 April 2012

Royal Blues

Spain's royal family, or at least King Juan Carlos, is not having a good time at the moment.

Last summer, the King's frequent hospital trips for various replacement body parts over the last couple of years led to him snapping at the press over their supposed obsession with his health: "What you like to do is kill me and have me in a coffin every day. This is what you do in the press." The comments were captured on camera and became an instant You-tube hit.

Then Iñaki Urdangarin, husband of the King’s youngest daughter Cristina, came under investigation for embezzlement. The former handball player stands accused of diverting money from his charitable institution to tax havens in Belise and the UK, and has been excluded from any official royal duties.

Just before Christmas JC appeared on TV sporting a shiner on his left eye and a plaster on his nose. Apparently he "walked into a door".

Last week the King's 13-year-old grandson, Froilan, shot himself in the foot during target practice at his father's country estate. He wasn't badly hurt, but it is illegal for children under 14 to possess or discharge firearms and his father, banker Jaime de Arichalar, could be fined up to €6,000.

This must have brought back unhappy memories for Juan Carlos, who accidentally shot and killed his own  brother in 1956. But far from being put off guns for life, JC went on to kill thousands more living things in a lifetime dedicated to la caza.  During a trip to Russia in 2006, he expressed the desire to shoot a bear.  Officials procured a domesticated bear, dosed it with vodka and stood it in front of our valiant monarch, who brought it down with a single shot.

The latest mishap occurred couple of days ago.  While on an elephant-hunting trip to Botswana, JC tripped on a step on a nocturnal trip to the bathroom, fell and broke his hip. He had to be flown back to Madrid in a private jet for treatment.

This hasn't gone down too well with his normally loyal subjects.   For a start, the trip was kept a secret.  Coinciding as it did with the announcement of  €10 billion cuts to health and education, this is perhaps not surprising.  The head of the United Left party, Cayo Lara, said that the king had shown “a lack of ethics and respect toward many people in this country who are suffering a great deal.” Speaking for the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Anna Simó criticized the fact that the king had not joined a waiting list for his treatment: “This just shows the extent of the monarchy’s moral degradation.”

The two main parties (PP and PSOE) have not made any official declarations, but the leader of the PSM Madrid Socialist Party, Tomás Gómez, was outspoken in his criticism: “The time has come for the [...] head of state to choose between his obligations and public duties and abdication, which would allow him to enjoy a different life.”
To be fair, the Royal household is having to implement budget cuts too.  The King's entourage will only get €8.2 million this year from the State, a swingeing 2% cut (that's right, two per cent - the average across all public expenditure is 17%).  But even though shooting an elephant in Botswana costs €37,000, there's no need for JC to cut back on his killing sprees;  they plan to absorb this by lowering the salaries of their staff and cutting down on official gifts.

World Wildlife Fund Spain  is now being inundated with demands to sack JC from his role as their Honorary Presidency.  If you want to add your protest, you can sign the petition here.

1 comment:

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