While the balconies of apartment buildings all over Catalonia were adopted as the stage for an interminable aural protest against Spanish king Felipe VI due to the corruption that runs deep in the Spanish monarchy, the king himself was appearing on television to make his first public speech since the expansion of the coronavirus crisis and the no-less important news that his father had bank accounts in Switzerland, allegedly with the proceeds of illegal commissions. Felipe VI's speech was particularly notable for its deafening silence on the offshore banking assets of Juan Carlos I, and the fact that the fortune these accounts hold is supposed to end up in the current monarch's own coffers, and after that, those of his heir, his daughter Elionor. The statement that he made renouncing the inheritance is meaningless since, as has been said several times, the Spanish criminal code does not allow people to renounce legacies with future effects.
At this time when people are feeling profound pain over the emergency and fear as the coronavirus infection spreads, the king was only able to offer empty words. He did not include even one simple sentence with which he marked, at least for appearances, a distancing from his father. Astonished, the Spain that was once won over personally by Juan Carlos - "Here there are no monarchists, what there are is juancarlistas" was one of the great quotes of the country's democratic transition - the Spanish deep state among others, is forced to fashion a new political framework, as was defined very well by a recent editorial from El País: "One must not confuse the monarchy with the person of the king emeritus". What? Time to release some ballast quickly.
For his speech, Felipe VI chose a blue suit, a white shirt and a burgundy tie. He didn't sit behind a table, as he had on 3rd October 2017, but stood behind a red lectern adorned with the royal house's coat of arms. Putting aside his Christmas speeches from the Zarzuela palace, he had only ever made one similar speech, the one in 2017 after the Catalan referendum, and the differences are significant. The Spanish anthem this time did not sound the same as it did back then, its mood was much less gestural and dramatic, even if now the dead are mounting up in cities and towns, there was no photo visible around him this time, just a plant and a kind of amphora that set the stage.
The magnificent 2006 film The Queen, directed by Stephen Frears, accurately depicts a moment that is highly illustrative of the character of the British sovereign, Elizabeth II: her emotional coldness, the moment of the British monarchy's great insensitivity after the death of Princess Diana. The distancing from the affection that the people showered on Lady Di. Monarchies are based on this: connecting at all times with the people. Felipe VI has been losing more of this aura, the longer his reign has gone on. Still not very long, by the way. But long enough for many Spanish citizens.
On 3rd October 2017, he lost Catalonia, as has been inexorably verified ever since that date. The snowball has slowly got bigger in the rest of Spain, with a part of the Spanish government - the Podemos members - increasingly uncomfortable. On this sad 18th March, another cluster of citizens slipped moorings with the monarchy as the current incumbent failed to say even a word on the corruption that for decades has settled in to the Spanish royal house. Sometimes time heals everything. But it seems to me that this time, no.