September 25, 2020

“If Juan Carlos had asked for forgiveness, it is possible that he would have helped the monarchy, but he would not have resolved the threats to which he is subject”


Sir Paul Preston (Liverpool, 1946) is one of the great contemporary Hispanists. His studio works, focused on the history of Spain, have sometimes raised blisters in a society not used to walking in the footsteps of its past. For more than four decades, he has documented the Second Republic and the tragic events that led to the Civil War. He, anti-Franco, wrote a biography about Franco who did not like his nostalgics. He, a juancarlista, wrote a biography about Juan Carlos I that those who doubt that the monarchy is useful today do not like.

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In 2003, after decades of study, he published his long-awaited portrait of the monarch. In Juan Carlos. The king of a people (Plaza & Janés), Preston reviewed the figure of the king over more than 600 pages, from his birth until the publication of the title. The book recounts how he came to the throne with Franco, his role in 23F – Preston points him out as the person most responsible “for the frantic operations to dismantle the coup” – and above all, highlights his dedication to the institution. “Contrary to the image that the magazines of the heart, the king has had a rather self-sacrificing and self-sacrificing life, “wrote the historian at the time, adding that for the Bourbon, “live like a king it has meant sacrifice and dedication to such an extent that it has endowed the monarchy with unthinkable legitimacy. ”

Over the years, Preston has published successive revisions to his biography. The events demanded it: “The elephants and the German princess had come together to break a media dam that was already leaking,” he wrote in one of the additions entitled The dangers of routine or the rise of the Phoenix. But no matter how many pages were added to the story, the author has always defended the importance of the role of Juan Carlos in Spanish democracy. And he continues to do so today, when he kindly agrees to answer from London the questions of elDiario.es about the flight of King Juan Carlos, in full investigation into his finances, to a destination from which for now the public has not been informed.

The Hispanist considers that “it is very sad that such an important trajectory for the history of Spain ends like this” and agrees with other experts that, “in immediate terms”, the departure of the emeritus is “a desperate measure to save the monarchy”.

Although in his last book, A betrayed people (Debate), He was already collecting some of the ex-monarch’s latest adventures and the scandals at the end of his reign that led to his abdication, he is “surprised” by the decision of his departure from Spain. He admits that he already thought that “the matter could hardly end well”: Juan Carlos I had long ago ceased to be “a national hero”, as he wrote in this volume focused on the history of corruption ‘made in Spain’.

Asked if he believes that the latest events make it necessary to review the history of Juan Carlos I, the biographer of the former monarch continues to maintain “that everything he did since he assumed the throne in 1975 until the defeat of the ‘Tejerazo’ as a contribution to the transition to democracy is something that cannot be stained in retrospect. ” However, he does believe that “in the last twenty years there will be a lot of revision.”

The survival of the monarchy now depends more on justice than on the Royal House

Paul Preston

The expert on the past of Spain does not dare to predict whether this gesture will be enough to save the Crown. “Predicting the future is not my strong suit,” he acknowledges. He assures that “something helps the situation of the monarchy the exile of Juan Carlos”, and considers that the survival of the institution now depends more “on Justice than on the Royal House” and what can Felipe VI,

Preston points out that “it is possible” that if Juan Carlos had given explanations or asked for forgiveness, something that he has not done at any time, “it would have helped the situation of the monarchy a little”, but considers that the gesture “would not have resolved the threats to which it is subject. ”

The prestigious historian has recognized in several interviews that find it difficult to understand what motivated Juan Carlos I take the trails of the alleged illegalities who are now under the magnifying glass. The scandals known in recent years, beyond the ‘salseos’ starring ‘el campechano’, definitely break any loophole of that image of suffering and sacrificed king. His escape in full investigation of his alleged illicit billionaire enrichment It has been the lace in his image, whose shadow was increasingly grotesque.

Preston trusts that, even so, the emeritus will go down in history “as one of the architects of democracy”, although he acknowledges that he will depend “a lot” on those “revisions” that remain pending on his behavior. The last pages of this story have yet to be written, but everything indicates that it is difficult for them to collect a happy ending for Juan Carlos I.

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