The reliable king, the victimised king, the king who hasn’t escaped
The Spanish press, both on the right and the left, have been sugaring the pill of Juan Carlos’ latest move.
I had some friends round today for a game of Departure from Colditz, the classic WW2 board game. One of them had a lucky departure when he nearly choked on a pretzel.
This just about sums up what Spanish papers have been doing apropos the peculiar announcement by the incumbent commander-in-chief of Spain’s armed forces (in the reserve). I say it is peculiar because the King Emeritus has chosen to announce his decision to flee from the scandal he is embroiled in once he had already left the country. It’s what we call a fait accompli. Thus, while foreign papers used words like “humiliation”, “exile” and “flight” in their headlines, Spanish media played a game of Taboo and tried to dress up the dishonourable manoeuvre of the royal consummator. Their tactic of choice was to pitch it as if it were an act of responsibility. For instance, Madrid daily La Razón titled their story Second Abdication. Of course, others rushed to buttress the institution: Juan Carlos Leaves Spain to Preserve Son’s Reign. It should be noted that his son, King Felipe, is the beneficiary of a trust fund set up in a tax haven which he only renounced to once the news had broken out —even though the incumbent king had known about it for months. ABC’s subheading is meaty, too: the King Emeritus’ “voluntary retirement” comes “after months of government pressure”. Voluntary. Yeah. Right. Not to mention the emotional manipulation of trying to present Juan Carlos as the victim.
The so-called progressive papers have shown more restraint, but they have been equally at pains to save the institution rather than point out the increasingly obvious rot within. On its front page, this newspaper demanded a Spain-wide referendum on the monarchy. However, this is highly unlikely to happen, given that Spain’s left and their friendly media seem inexplicably distracted. Anyway, that’s me now. I’m off to watch Departure from Alcatraz on TV. I’m very fond of Clint Eastwood.