In a public event which took place in March 2012, King Juan Carlos I of Spain improvised a few words which seemed not to have been produced by his speechwriters, something extremely rare in him as regards speaking of critical topics, given his extremely limited intellectual capacity. It was even more rare considering the existent convulsion resulting from the Urdangarín scandal, so probably his words should be just put down to an occasional delirium closely related to the accumulated strain. Whatever it was, he managed to utter something like: “the extremely high unemployment rate among the youth is disturbing my sleep”, with the silly tone of voice and facial expression that characterize him.
I ignore how many Spaniards were stupid enough to believe the sincerity of that statement, but however many they were our King immediately proved them wrong. About two or three weeks after those words, the breaking news broadcasts informed that King Juan Carlos had suffered an accident during a trip abroad, which provoked him a hip fracture in three pieces. Shortly afterwards many more details were available on the Internet and the media, both officially and extra-officially: The King (who is the Honorary President of the environmental organisation “Adena-WWF”) had travelled on a private jet to Botswana to take part in one of his favourite pastimes: killing elephants, an endangered species. Nobody in Spain seemed to have had any previous information about this modest trip, not even the Government, despite not being at all the first time our dear King made a trip of the kind. Moreover, the Royal House had cancelled a few days before one of the regular scheduled meetings between the King and the President of the Government, as it coincided with the royal trip plans, but no explanation had been provided about the reasons. So once the accident became fully public, the Royal House issued a statement explaining that they never “inform about the private trips of the Royal Family”. Something perfectly understandable, given that our exemplary democratic system basically guarantees us –normal citizens- the right to just be informed on when and how we have to pay our taxes.
This is indeed a wonderful policy for many, including our King, who seems to be convinced not to have to provide the slightest explanation on what he does with our public money, whether it is exterminating innocent animals, taking luxury private trips, testing the quality of a wide range of alcoholic drinks, or fulfilling his baroque sexual whims in some joyful incursions beyond the palace gates.
The official explanation of this accident was that Don Juan Carlos stumbled over a step in his residence at night. There is however a far more credible extra-official reconstruction of the facts: the King, on the fourth day of his stay in Botswana, was so terribly drunk at night that he fell, somewhere somehow, with the afore-mentioned result. He was flown back to Spain, on another private jet, to be operated on in Madrid. It is also relevant to mention that, a few months before, our King had suffered another mysterious accident that was officially put down to “accidentally hitting his face on a door”, which left him with a black eye that forced him to use sunglasses in public events for several weeks. This moronic explanation reminded me of another famous fall: the one in which George Bush Jr, had allegedly lost consciousness after “choking on a pretzel”. I still wonder today whether his pretzels were solid or liquid.
The fact is that once the official version of the King’s accident was largely broadcasted, dozens of jokes started proliferating on the social media with the word “trompa” and the expression “cazar una trompa”. For those who are not familiar with Castilian Spanish, let’s say that the usual meaning of the word “trompa” is “trunk”, but it has a double meaning: “drunkenness”. In like manner, “cazar una trompa” literally means “to hunt a trunk”, and the double meaning would be: “to get really drunk”.
Anyhow, this was only the last episode in a saturation of scandals linked with the Spanish Monarchy over a period of very few months. Other than the outrageous “Urdangarín affair”, just a few days before the King’s accident in Botswana, his eldest grandson had also suffered his own accident, in this case provoked by a firearm. The thirteen year old boy, whose modest first name is “Felipe Juan Froilán De Todos los Santos”, was at that moment with his father: Jaime De Marichalar, divorced from Princess Elena and whose supposed fondness for drugs seems pretty confirmed. It seems that the child was handling a shotgun in dad’s private hacienda in Extremadura, when he accidentally shot his own foot, suffering serious injuries.
Unacceptable as it as to teach such young people how to use firearms, it is also illegal: the Spanish legislation specifically forbids the use of fire weapons to people under fourteen. This happening is even more serious given the personal record of the King himself, who back in his youth was involved in an extremely obscure event, scarcely mentioned in the Spanish public life: when he was 18 years old, Don Juan Carlos accidentally killed his fifteen year old brother, Alfonso, with a gun he believed not to be loaded.
Something has dramatically changed, anyway, for the Spanish monarchy in very few months. The wild censorship practiced for decades regarding the royal activities seems to have suddenly fallen apart for several reasons: the terrible economic situation of Spain, the unacceptable levels of corruption in the country, as well as all the silenced scandals the Monarchy has accumulated over the years. The moment then had to come when the royal carpet couldn’t just cover any more dirt.
Even the major political parties seem to have started to discreetly disassociate themselves from the Monarchy, aiming at not damaging even more their already dreadful image. Furthermore, some of their members have even started to mildly criticize the Royal Family, a very effective way indeed to distract attention from their own corruption scandals.
Poor elephants and poor Spanish people…
More about it: Article by “El País”, with a picture of King Juan Carlos ready to kill elephants.