Thursday, 19 June 2014

¡Ole! ¡Ole! ¡Viva el Rey!

The Spanish Crown, Awaiting the New King

For most of my life, I've found myself to the right of my environment - politically anyways.  As an anecdote, I've personally been called a "crypto-fascist."  Now, I don't necessarily deny that I am a fascist (a term that, according to non other than George Orwell, has become so abused that it's functionally meaningless beyond "it signifies something not desirable" - am I really "something not desirable?"  Maybe) - but I would say that I take umbrage nonetheless.  There is nothing at all hidden or concealed about my fascism.

So it should surprise no one that I am sympathetic to the dwindling number of monarchies in the world.  Actual monarchies, of course.  Not the sort that are proclaimed - Michael Jackson is the "King of Pop."  Elvis Presley is the "King of Rock and Roll."  Abe Froman is the "Sausage King of Chicago."

No; I of course am talking about real monarchies - with ermine robes, orbs of state, and crowns with jewels on them.

For us monarchists, today marks an important day, where we can feel our crypto-royalist hearts swelling with crypto-pride within our crypto-monarchist breasts .

Spain has today crowned Felipe VI of Bourbon as its new king.  The cries of "The King is dead; long live the King" are shortened, as the previous sovereign of Spain, Juan Carlos, abdicated earlier this month, after 38 years on the throne, to make way for his son.

I've been following the events on my RSS feed from the local Parisian newspaper Le Figaro, which is giving up-to-the-minute coverage complete with reports and photos.  And has been all morning here in France.

Felipe, dauphin d'Espagne attend
sa couronne avec sa famille

In the image above, the old King Juan Carlos is shown with the new King Felipe VI, and their families, in preparation for the trip to the Congres de Espana for the swearing and then by the Plaza de Cibeles, Gran Via, and finally Plaza Real in central Madrid.

We've visited Spain on several occasions during our life in France - it's a short flight from Paris to either Madrid and Barcelona, and we have a close feeling for the country and the Spanish people.  Spain has a tremendously rich history, beautiful and varied architecture resulting from a confluence of Phoenician, Roman, Gothic, Arab, and Moorish styles, and some truly outstanding food and wine.  And of course, the Spanish people have been extremely warm and welcoming.  It's not a huge destination for Americans, but one I would fully and heartily put at the top of the list for anyone who travels at all to Europe.  

The outgoing king has had problems recently - scandals involving his daughter's finances, an ill-advised safari, troubles with some sectarian arguments amongs some of Spain's regions (notably, Catalonia and Basque countries).  Juan Carlos has not been in terrific health and is now quite old.  At a parade honouring Spain's military late in 2013, the king had a difficult time giving his speech, which he delivered from a chair rather than upstanding - a fact that was met with derision in the republican (small-R) Spanish press.  For all the failings, I found it odd to attack an aging man who was, despite the manifold problems of his country (which reflect the almost endogenous problems of Europe rather than any personal failings) completing his duties as king with grace and dignity.  

I remember the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, where Juan Carlos spoke in Catalan (Barcelona is in Catalonia) in an obvious and graceful gesture to the linguistic minority.  I thought - here is a dignified symbol of a dignified nation.  A king today exemplifies the national character far more than he gives "off with their heads" edicts.

In that, I think Juan Carlos has been a good king.

Polls show a certain scepticism in Spain for the monarchy, but as of today, about three in four Spanish polled express a belief that the new Felipe VI will be a similarly good king.

He's accomplished, composed, and attentive to the duties required.  He has a beautiful family, including two young children.

Here in France, the monarchs are long gone. In name, at least.  The current President, François Hollande who is very much a democrat and republican (at least he claims to be, loudly, and frequently), however resides in a building called "Palais de l’Élysée" (a palace in name, but also a former actual palace), who travels around with all the pomp and circumstance of a real king.  At least when not sneaking off to a tryst with a b-list actress, when an anonymous scooter will do.  The US has Barack Obama, who has similar, Hollande-esque contrivances.  Most notably, jetting off to play golf whilst the middle east deteriorates and scandals about the poor treatment of soldiers in the VA churn.

The Spanish monarchs are direct descendants of the Bourbon dynasty in France.  In an odd bit of trivia, among the banners for the Spanish royals is "Roi de Corse" (king of Corsica - itself a French territory).  As a direct heir to Louis XIV, Felipe will have many honorary titles:

Felipe va enfin avoir une couronne sur la tête. Le nouveau roi d’Espagne prendra sa place sur le trône jeudi à la suite de son père Juan Carlos. Il deviendra donc officiellement Philippe VI de Bourbon, roi d’Espagne … mais aussi de Corse.
Of course, he will have no more actual power over Corsica than Napoleon , who famously came from Ajaccio in Corsica, enjoys.  And he's been dead for more than a century and a half.  

I wish the new king all the best.

Viva el rey, y viva Espana....

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