Saturday, April 21, 2012

Popularity on a knife edge

One of the most notable things we found about Spain when we arrived was loyalty to the royal family. Unlike the royals in Britain that we had left behind, those in Spain were seen as hard working, frugal, modern in outlook and very much loved by the majority of Spaniards until recently that is.

When the austerity measures imposed by government cuts started to bite and  unemployment hit 24%, the king said he lay awake at nights worrying about the young jobless in his country.

However, when he fell en route to the bathroom at an exclusive safari camp in Botswana where he had gone to shoot elephants things changed. It is said that the holiday cost !0,000 Euros per day, paid by a Syrian businessman close to the Saudi royal family. No matter, the fact that the king was even there was enough to enrage many Spaniards facing hardship.

If that was all it would be bad enough but when you also read that his son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarín, Duke of Palma is involved in a corruption scandal then matters get worse.

It also didn’t help when his 13-year-old grandson, Froilán Marichalar, shot himself through the foot with a 36-calibre shotgun just a few days before the Botswana incident. The grandson was of course too young to be using a gun legally and although the incident occurred on private property, it has still caused a huge stir.

Even in his private life, the king does not escape from scandal. It is public knowledge that his marriage to Queen Sofia has failed and that he is linked romantically with a German aristocrat. 

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