The horrific photo of the Spanish king emeritus with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia in Abu Dhabi, in a relaxed atmosphere far from the events which suggest Mohammed bin Salman as responsible for the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country's consulate in Istanbul, is a dark chapter for the Spanish monarchy. If the photo wasn't avoidable, Juan Carlos I shouldn't have made the gaffe of travelling to Abu Dhabi. At this time, it's no honour to have been the first prominent Western figure to allow themselves be photographed with such an atrocious character and it gives the king emeritus an attitude of great indifference towards whatever might happen. Something which, on the other hand, isn't anything new recently.
The Zarzuela palace, back in the eye of the storm, has tried to apologise and play down the controversy even knowing full well the damage the image is doing which will go down as a symbol of the end of an era. Podemos has attacked strongly, like the pro-independence parties; Ciudadanos has also been critical and PSOE, discomforted, has asked gently for an explanation. PP has kept quiet. Too much commotion for an institution which isn't in the best of situations and at a time when they're desperately trying to include Juan Carlos I in the ceremonies for the 40th anniversary of the Constitution, which are planned to be held in Madrid this year with no expense spared.
Meanwhile, the Parliament of Catalonia has taken the first step towards creating an investigating commission looking into the Bourbon monarchy with the support of four parties in the Catalan chamber: Junts per Catalonia, the promoters of the initiative, ERC, Catalunya En Comú-Podem and the CUP, who together represent 78 deputies of a total of 135. The chamber's lawyers haven't seen any objections to its creation although I'm rather afraid that the commission will be stopped at some stage or other, be it political or legal. If not now, in time.
The combination of the two stories so quickly one after the other merely highlights the enormous distance between the monarchy and the public. The institution is cut off from its necessary and mandatory prudence and neutrality, something ever more evident, and has had episodes like that of 3rd October last year which has cost it a total break with Catalan society. But also the fact of taking initiatives to the Parliament which would have been completely unthinkable until very recently. The distance is ever greater.