This year, for the first time in many years, Pam and I watched the Queen’s speech - not at the time of its original broadcast but a later re-run on Sky News. When we lived in England, we rarely had chance to listen to the speeches because they coincided with lunch. Her messages carry a lot of meaning and demonstrate why Her Majesty is still held in great esteem by the majority of the British public.
In Spain, the King delivered his speech on Christmas Eve which is the traditional day for families in Spain.
Last year, at the depth of the crisis for the monarchy here, Juan Carlos’ speech reached the lowest audience in fifteen years. At that time he said that nobody is above the law in reference to the corruption charges against his son-in-law and the investigation into his daughter’s accounts.
This year he may be forgiven, however Catalonians will have missed the speech because it was not transmitted there.
Catalonia, led by Artur Mas, is pushing for a referendum on whether it should become a separate state in the same way that voters in Scotland will be choosing whether to break free from Great Britain. The difference is that the Spanish Prime Minister has said that the Catalan plebiscite would be unconstitutional whereas in Britain, the government has said that it will recognise the outcome of the Scottish vote.
If the Catalans were allowed to vote, then it is thought that 50% would choose to separate from Spain. However, since the PM has said that he will block the referendum in parliament and in court if necessary, the whole business could come to nothing. Artur Mas’ party will lose support and an early election will be called for which he will likely lose to the ERC party.
Returning to the speech we listened to, Queen Elizabeth referred throughout to reflection. For her, with sixty years at the helm of Britain, it is time to pause and consider how things have changed but at the same time to reflect upon those aspects of life that have remained constant. For Her Majesty, it is family values and the devotion to service which she has shown over the entire 60 years that are most important.
It is interesting that both monarchies have faced problems and scandal over the years. Of the two though, I would say the British monarchy has weathered the storm best. Quite what will happen though when Charles accedes to the throne is hard to say.