The photo of king Juan Carlos with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, smiling and greeting each other at the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix, is a new slip, and not a minor one, by the Spanish monarchy. Salman has been singled out by the entire international community as being responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October in the country's consulate in Istanbul. The different stories offered by the crown prince have merely corroborated his role in the journalist's death as the weeks have gone by. The same thing has happened with the reports from the United States' intelligence services which haven't hesitated in fingering prince Mohammed.
As already happened with the photo with the elephant with princess Corinna, there are images which say much more than the words. That image of him killing pachyderms in Botswana, taken in 2006 and published in 2012, revealed how the then-monarch had a stable relationship with princess Corinna. The fact that an accident happened and he broke his hip meant he had to return to Spain in haste and the whole situation was discovered. That image affected his private life; this one with prince Mohammed affects his public life and the image of Spain as he continues representing the country wherever he goes and forming part of the royal family which has already been reduced to a minimum after the Nóos affair and the sentence against Iñaki Urdangarin and the infanta Cristina. Nor is the infanta Elena part of it.
The former king, as such, has a responsibility which he has abandoned with this visit, dragging the image of Spain with him. Economic reasons don't justify everything and even less so photos as calamitous as this one which are a true democratic scandal. The relations between the two royal families, which have already given several upsets in the past and have led to all manner of rumours, cannot be used to clean up the crown prince's image. The Spanish government and monarchy at the Moncloa and Zarzuela would do well to not let the incident pass as if it were a minor blip, even knowing that, currently, the two palaces' problems have much more to do with Villarejo and his inexhaustible audio library.