No. But it seems we have to live with monarchies, or presidents. And presidents are pretty dire, it has to be said. Monarchies may cost the tax-payer money, but who would really want the endless round of presidential elections?
I have never understood the American system. It leaves me totally befuddled and as soon as one president is installed, the next round of elections is already being talked up.
As heads of state go, I can live with a monarchy. Depending on the monarch. They are easier to criticise too. The public has no say about their appointment, so we can cheerfully sound off about their appalling dress sense, their views, their education, their relationships, whether or not they drink or smoke. Just, everything they do, is put under the microscope. Not a job I’d like. Too much dressing up and speaking to idiots. Not enough dressing down and speaking to animals. And not a job you can walk away from – or can you?
In the space of just over a year, we’ve had three royal resignations in Europe. Firstly in the Netherlands where they make a habit of it, then Belgium, and now Spain. Although the pope is technically sovereign of the Vatican City, he’s hardly royalty, so we’ll leave him out of the equation.
All three are in their seventies. Meanwhile, the good ship Elizabeth continues on at nearly 90 and after 60 years on the throne. Quite right too. If my heir was Charles, I’d be unwilling to abdicate. The other monarchs don’t come close in terms of longevity, 20 ish in Belgium, 33 in the Netherlands, and nearly 40 for Juan Carlos.
So why do they all do it? In JC’s case, his elephant hunting trip did him no favours, at a reputed cost of some €10,000 a day, rumours of a few extra marital flings, and his son-in-law’s interesting financial deals.
Urdangarin, the husband of the Infanta Cristina, younger daughter of Juan Carlos and Sophia, and Duchess of Mallorca, has not only been charged with embezzlement, but like his father-in-law, has been associated with, yes, extra-marital flings. Royal privilege even for the in-laws? A best-selling biography of Sophia told of how alone she felt, and given her husband’s alleged infidelities, how they’d not shared a bed since 1976.
So, we have the handsome Felipe and the lovely Letizia. Got to love the hypocrisy of a Catholic country. Not only does the heir to the throne marry a divorcee – it’s OK says the Catholic church because it was only a civil ceremony so she wasn’t really married at all – but she’s rumoured to have had an abortion (when it was still illegal in Spain) before she married Prince Charming, and wanted all the paperwork destroyed. I don’t know. I merely repeat gossip and rumour.
However, here is something factual. Three years ago, when Charlie and Camel visited Spain, note, deliberately avoiding Gib to avoid any contentious diplomatic issues, dear Felipe raised the ‘historic bilateral dispute’ and hoped progress could be made towards resolving it.
I think he meant, Spain lost Gib, whine, cry, moan, and we want it back. Why is it a historic dispute? I mean the UK hasn’t disputed that Gib is a sovereign territory. Nor has Gib. Only whingey moany Spain. Note, Felipe, there are three parties in this one. It is not bilateral, but trilateral. Would any other country get away with this perpetual intimidation? (Argentina comes to mind of course).
But you know, this is not correct etiquette. Royals do not raise politically sensitive subjects when hosting other royals. Much as I dislike Charles, he avoided the barbed comment. Or maybe he shouldn’t have done. Perhaps his naughty father might have said, ‘From one Philip to another, or one family member to another, (sixth cousins twice removed or something via the Greek side, let alone anything else) why don’t you wogs just keep your hands off Gibraltar and where’s the fucking gin?’
This story about the gin is based on a Saudi tale, it’s only third hand so it must be true, but PP was meant to have asked in such forthright terms for the gin, which had been specially shipped in for him.
So based on that one diplomatic faux pas (Felipe’s not Philip’s), I have no high hopes of Felipe. He can only improve. Doubt he will.
If he leaves the elephants alone, keeps his shagging around discrete, and doesn’t stick his nose into politics he may be passable. The world has bred a load of young boring unthinking royals and their spouses, most of whom are judged on their looks. Felipe is just one more of the same.
Please pass the gin.