Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is personal view of Spain and Spanish life as seen by a Briton living in a small village in Alicante province.
The other tabs link to similar blogs when I have lived in other places. The TIM magazine is an English language magazine I write articles for.

Monday, June 09, 2014

On Kings

I used to work with a chap who was fond of quoting Denis Diderot “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”. I worked with him over thirty years ago so it must have made an impact.

The truth is though that I'm not really bothered by what a bunch of rich toffs are up to. In fact I think it's funny that all the Royals seem quite keen to get married to non royals. At least when they were all marrying their cousins they could claim blue blood, or at least family genetic disorders. Now they're just more canon fodder for the paparazzi like any other celeb.

I must admit I always quite liked those fat ones - Andrew and Sarah. They were exactly what they should have been, a couple of Hoorah Henries going to parties or whatever it is that people with too much money and too much spare time do with their equally vacuous pals. They never tried too hard to pretend that they cared about dolphins or landmines.

An old friend said that he was surprised I hadn't blogged anything about the abdication of Juan Carlos I. Two reasons really. I've always tried to maintain the idea that this blog is about the things, the little things, that happen to me and around me in Spain and since the King stopped me giving blood he and I have not had a lot to do with each other. The second is that I don't care.

Juan Carlos has been a popular bloke. All the stuff around the transition, the way he handled himself then went down well. Also there were lots of urban myths about him helping stranded motorists, popping out to do ordinary things because he thought he was an ordinary sort of bloke. We all laughed when he told Hugo Chávez to shut up when he kept interrupting the then Spanish President in some meeting in Chile. We laughed again when we realised the ring tone on his phone was of one of the grandchildren laughing. Then a couple of years ago all sorts of stories started to pop up about his sexual dalliances particularly with a German princess, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. (It's like some novelette isn't it?  - a German princess - does she have a hat with a spike?)  I think it was the elephant hunt that did for him though. From then on in his popularity plummeted and for the first time it was ok to have a go at the King. Just recently public opinion gave him 3.72 out of 10 against the 7.46 he scored in 1994.

Anyway. So why am I writing now. The answer is that I was shouting at the radio the other day.

The Spanish Constitution says, in article 14, that everyone is equal before the law. Later in articles 71 and 102 it gives some protections to parliamentary deputies, senators and members of the government to stop them being legally harassed. A later "organic" law dealing with the judiciary gave similar cover to various law officers. The King goes one better, he's above it all, he's untouchable. Those with protection still have to go to court but it takes a lot longer to get them there and they don't have to go along to the local courts. They generally go directly to the Supreme Court. The regional governments have done something similar for their regional deputies and  it's reckoned that there are now about 10,000 people with special judicial protection.

So, the King gives up his job and they are having to write a law to get his boy into place. When he goes lots of things change - like his daughters no longer being princesses - and he stops being above the law. A little side piece to this was that the abdication law should ensure that the present King maintains a special legal protection even when he becomes a regular citizen again. Some radio pundit was giving his very important opinion that it was imperative that this dispensation continue. "Why?" I shouted at the radio, "give me a reason!" Rich and powerful people get away with murder (hopefully not literally) anyway.

There are 1,700 officials being investigated in cases of corruption in Spain, 500 of them have been charged but only 20 people are in prison. The other day four bankers who had awarded themselves pensions of just short of 30 million euros didn't get sent to prison when they said sorry they'd been so bad and gave back the money. Rich gets have already got all the protection they need.

If the local court isn't any good then it should get fixed and if the local court is good enough for me it's good enough for him and for everyone else.


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