Spanish royals worried about protests

28th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

28 September 2007, MADRID - Pictures of Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are hung upside down and set on fire. Demonstrators watch them being devoured by flames, displaying banners reading: "I am against the monarchy" and "I burn the crown."

28 September 2007

MADRID - Pictures of Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are hung upside down and set on fire. Demonstrators watch them being devoured by flames, displaying banners reading: "I am against the monarchy" and "I burn the crown."

Until recently, such television images would have been almost unthinkable in Spain, but anti-monarchist demonstrations have now occurred at least three times in the north-eastern region of Catalonia.

They were preceded by a scandal in Madrid over a caricature on the crown prince, criticism of the royal family's lack of financial transparency and unusually malicious gossip on the royals' private lives on television.

What is going on in Spain, which was thought to be a steadfast monarchy with "Juancarlist" citizens?

There is little doubt that the monarchy still enjoys widespread support. The anti-monarchist rallies in Catalonia only drew a few hundred people, and none of the mainstream political parties would even dream of proposing swapping the monarchy for a republic.

At the same time, however, officials at the Zarzuela royal palace admit that they are concerned.

Isolated and insignificant protests, they fear, could be taken advantage of by separatists seeking independence from Spain in Catalonia and the Basque region.

Protests could also boost Spaniards' feelings of envy over royal privileges, commentators said, and get out of hand.

Spain's 69-year-old king has enjoyed what appeared to be almost unanimous popular support since he helped to thwart a military coup in 1981.

Juan Carlos, Sofia and their children are well-liked also for their professionalism and approachable style. The king has, however, never forgotten that he has to "earn his throne every day," as he once said, in the country with a strong republican tradition.

 (Copyright DPA with Expatica)

Subject: Spanish news

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