Read in Catalan

Spanish royal family chronicler Jaime Peñafiel has struck again. Peñafiel’s latest column on King Felipe VI brings to light a facet of the monarch's character that he always wanted to conceal. More than 14 years ago, José Antonio Alcina, responsible for the education of the prince, published a book explaining how the young Felipe was brought up.

In those pages he explained all the techniques he used, how his charge gradually made progress... But the most curious thing - and what Peñafiel wants to draw attention to now - is the teenage ailment that Alcina recounts in his work. It seems that adolescence was not very kind to Felipe, because he began to suffer from a sleep disorder that gave his caregivers a lot to worry about.

When the young Borbón was only 16 years, he was given his new tutor Alcina, a figure who would try to correct his wayward habits: "He was a spoiled child, weak in his schoolwork, who skipped classes, was unpunctual in his school obligations and despotic, with a serious additional problem: his sleep patterns," Jaime begins. The tutor explained this phase that Felipe was going through as a consequence of his teenage growth spurt: he was going through puberty and it caused him to be vague, drowsy and to show a general lack of interest in things: "He would fall asleep, even on his feet."

rei felip adormit  GTRES


From there, he begins to recount a series of anecdotes that show how he dealt with his sleepy charge: "At around 7:30am, the first task was to bring Felipe out of his deep sleep using all sorts of stratagems. From pulling his legs, opening the window or calling him by phone from the royal palace's switchboard. But often, he was so profoundly immersed in his slumber that it was virtually impossible."

These problems continued in the months Felipe spent at a school in Canada: "There the regime was very demanding and strict. To begin with, he had to get up at half past six. The prince began to have problems in waking up at such an uncomfortable hour... Chris, his roommate, would be his alarm clock, but if he was unsuccessful, he despaired in the face of such a persistent and profound state of dormancy. There were times when the school principal had to place an ice pack on Felipe's forehead."

But the disorder continued during the day. What happened was that the teacher forced him to take his classes standing up, because if he was sitting, he wouldn't be able to stop himself from falling asleep: "Even if he placed his elbows on the table, he would doze off profoundly".

rei felip adormit 2  GTRES


Since Alcina's book revealed aspects that Felipe VI did not want to be public, he tried to prevent it from being published. But he was unsuccessful, since, after the manuscript had been kept on ice for two years, it finally went to press. And now, when the Spanish royal family is agonizing, it is an appropriate moment to note that the monarch has never been fully perfect.