25 September 2022 ~ 0 Comentarios

On Heroes, Tombs and Other Monarchical Entanglements

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

After a dignified and orderly monarchy of more than 70 years, the English queen chose to die at 96 years old. She did not want to risk herself to another interview like Oprah’s. Her son will reign with the name of Charles III, but it will not be the same. Elizabeth II takes with her the affection and respect of most of her subjects. Charles III will have to win them over and that is very difficult. She was buried at Windsor Castle, near her parents, George VI and Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, her flighty sister Margaret, and her husband, Philip of Edinburgh, decorated as a hero during World War II, who had the fine courtesy of dying in 2021, at 99 years old, eighteen months before his regal wife.

Jorge Luis Borges’ mother also died at the age of 99. An acquaintance told him that it was a pity that she had not lived to a hundred years old. “I don’t think so,” the Buenos Aires writer replied. “Why?” his interlocutor inquired. “Because I never saw in her a devotion to the decimal metric system,” replied Borges, who did not miss an opportunity to create an ingenious phrase.

Egypt’s Farouk, in the golden exile that he was destined to live, went down in the annals of the boutades. He said with melancholy that “there would soon be five kings left. The four kings of the Spanish cards and the English king.” But it wasn’t true. According to Ipsos, at least for now we must discard the four in the Spanish cards. Farouk was showing his resentment. He had been overthrown by Lieutenant Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952 and forced to leave his homeland in six hours. By the time his blue eyes shut for the last time, he was, of course, in an Italian restaurant. He was the thickest former monarch in history. He weighed 140 kilos, more than 300 pounds. Obviously, he died of a heart attack shortly after his 45th birthday. He died struck down by a dish of spaghetti bolognese. It is the only case recorded in history.

Ipsos Global Advisor numbers show that only 15% think the UK would be better off without the monarchy, and the rest of the European royal houses also enjoy a strong support. Only 17% oppose the Belgian monarchy and 22% the Swedish one. I suspect the Dutch, Danes and Norwegians are in between those two digits. Why do I think so? Because the cost of having a symbolic representation of the nation is very low. (By the way, only 4% of Japanese people think that the monarchy should be abolished, but we already know that the Japanese are different).

Like the Spanish… but on the other side. The same survey, conducted in 28 countries, shows that 52% of Spaniards think that the permanence of the monarchy should go to a vote, including one in four members of the Popular Party, from the conservative right, but only 37% of the electorate would vote against it. That includes almost all of the United Left and 80% of Podemos party. (More than half of Spaniards favor the monarchy).

The Spanish understand that Felipe VI is not like his father. I mean, that he has nothing to do with the moral character of Juan Carlos, quite punished recently in the HBO series “Operation: Save the King.” Felipe is an absolutely honest king, and Letizia, the queen, is a modern and enlightened middle-class woman, a university graduate, the pride of the nation. Letizia has done everything possible to educate Princess Leonor so that she fulfills her duties as queen when it comes her time to replace her father. I believe that the girl speaks, in addition to Castilian, English and French, the key international languages, Catalan and Galician—the other two Romance languages ​​of the Iberian Peninsula—, while she gets by with Basque, the difficult primordial language of many Basques. If she comes to reign, Leonor, like Letizia, will be a progressive monarch.

The best way to protect the Spanish monarchy is to legislate that, every 15 or 20 years, a new generation carries out the ceremony to vote whether or not they want the institution of monarchs. That would save the country a lot of blood. After all, three times the Bourbon dynasty has had to abandon power and go into exile. (The King Emeritus himself, Juan Carlos, was born in exile in Rome.) Change has never been without a cost. It is time for that to change.

Leave a Reply