Who said you can’t just ignore an elephant in a room as a metaphor that there are thorny issues to tackle even if you don’t dare and pretend they don’t exist? It can. Felipe VI has done it. The king knows that the problem of the Spanish monarchy is not called Pablo Iglesias, but Juan Carlos I. He is aware that there has been no greater smear campaign against the institution than the obscene and dishonest behavior of his father, from which he also learned very soon his brother-in-law, today in jail. He also knows that no one ever did more damage to his reign than the emeritus. And he also knows that, no matter how long the time passes, Spaniards will not forget that whoever preceded him on the throne dragged the name of Spain, the crown and his own name through the mud for at least the last two decades.
And yet he has decided to skip it all. Read, in case you didn’t hear it before Christmas dinner:
“Already in 2014, in my proclamation before the General Courts, I referred to the moral and ethical principles that citizens demand of our conduct. Some principles that oblige us all without exceptions; and that are above any consideration, of the whatever nature, even personal or family “.
That´s folks. One paragraph, two sentences and 57 words. Nothing else. That was the whole allusion to the emeritus and his reprehensible behaviors. And that of all his speeches, this was the most anticipated. Luckily, in this year of celebration only with cohabitants and close friends, there would be fewer “brothers-in-law” with whom to engage because the shoe was insured.
The message with which Felipe VI had to reconnect with citizens and break his scandalous silence, after several months of news about tax fraud, opaque accounts and a millionaire fortune accumulated by his father in tax havens, was a succession of platitudes and words of wood, plus a missed opportunity. The one that was claimed from the Government and from a good part of public opinion and published to mark a turning point with the corruption of the one who used the head of state to enrich himself in a dishonest and allegedly corrupt way for 40 years.
Among those who took advantage of the situation to promote a debate on the republic, those who demanded an express apology and those who expected an explicit mention, however brief, of the emeritus’ misdeeds, the king was left with the advice only of the courtiers. He strictly followed the recommendation to remain in a mere rhetorical allusion, which is the same for a Christmas message, for a coronation, or for opening a congress of epidemiologists. And yet he said he understood his responsibilities “with the renewing spirit that inspires my Reign from day one.” What renovation was he talking about? The Royal House remains the same hermetic and opaque institution as when its father reigned. Little or nothing has changed. And with his scandalous attitude Felipe VI does nothing more than corroborate it.
The right wing will say that he lived up to expectations, that Felipe VI is exemplary, that he is committed to constitutional values and principles and that he does not have to assume the behaviors or responsibilities of others, beyond what he already did, which was to remove the assignment. annual to emeritus. A part of the left will think that with his decision he has only fueled the debate on whether or not Spain will be a republic in the future. And the Government, in public, will stand in solemn respect for his words. In private, however, some government laments are already being heard for the lack of sensitivity to a major scandal that has affected the credibility of an institution that in recent years has not made the news except for the succession of accumulated scandals.
If Felipe VI considers that the Spanish do not deserve explanations or his explicit condemnation of the behavior of the emeritus, he is wrong. Between his father and his daughter -as successor to the throne-, with his words it is clear who he has bet on. If the dilemma was between his family and Spain, he has undoubtedly put the love of a son for the father before his obligations as head of state, which also include preserving the stability and integrity of the institution. Somehow it remains tied to the past times in which they were believed unpunished, as well as inviolable. And everything indicates that the elephant has devoured him.
“It will not be difficult for the year 2021 to improve to this 2020,” he said goodbye. This may not be the case in his case because the shadow of Juan Carlos I is still, in addition to being elongated, very disturbing.