Spain: King Juan Carlos under fire
17 April 2012
El Periódico de Catalunya
His fractured hip is doing better but the accident suffered on April 12 by King Juan Carlos during an elephant hunt is still causing ripple effects to his reputation. His private visit to Botswana in the midst of an economic crisis has opened "an unscheduled, but probably inevitable debate on the habits of the Spanish monarchy," notes Spanish daily El Periódico.
This is the latest in a series of events in an "annus horribilis" for the royalty. It comes in addition to the suspicion of corruption weighing on the king's son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, and to a recent shooting accident in which his 13-year old grandson shot himself in the foot. In Spain, children under 14 are not allowed access to firearms. Despite the government's silence, veiled criticism is rising in political circles and in the media. The paper also notes that -
... the impropriety of this royal trip was so clear, at a time when the country is undergoing very serious difficulties, that even those with staunch royalist convictions cannot hide their disarray.
El Periódico recalls the influential role played by Juan Carlos during the period of transition from the Franco era to democracy. But, the paper adds, if "the monarchy provided institutional stability for over three decades, [...] this affection and respect has weakened in recent years". El Periódico raises the issue of Juan Carlos' succession. The king is 74 and came to the throne at the age of 37 while Prince Felipe is already aged 44 -
It is objectively the worst time for Spain to get mired in a controversy that would call into question the monarchy [...] But the monarchy must renew itself.