The Spanish royal family fears almost nothing. The Spanish intelligence service, the deputy prime minister, the armed forces and journalistic self-censorship take charge of controlling what's said about the monarchy. Except for one free spirit, a "pest" as abdicated king Juan Carlos I calls her. The pest is Catalan journalist and writer Pilar Eyre. She receives En Blau at her home, ready to talk about everything. With the excuse of the second edition of Carmen, la rebelde (Planeta, 2018, literally "Carmen, the rebel") about Juan Carlos's grandfather Alfonso XIII's lover, we ask her about the Spanish royal family. Eyre knows everything about them. She signs our copy of the book and lets us address her with the more informal tú "you". She's a colleague.
Many Catalans believe that the son is better than the father...
The son is more right-wing than the father. That what those who know them well, within their impermeable bubble, tell me. The son is more right-wing than the father, who has a more liberal character. Felipe's speech after the referendum and the police charges, on 3rd October, his father wouldn't have made [that speech]. Juan Carlos would always say "not much here [pointing to her head], but a lot from here [pointing to her nose]". He would have been more discerning.
Is Felipe like that under the influence of his mother, Sofía, of his wife, Letizia, or because he's just like that?
He's got Greek and German blood and they've kept him wrapped in cotton so long that he's turned out like that. When Felipe was 8 they passed a note to journalists that from then on they had to bow or curtsy to him, call him his royal highness and speak to him in third person. His teachers would say to his father "sorry my royal highness, I'm giving him classes in subjects you know more about than me". So his education was very deficient.
Jaime Peñafiel wrote that princess Leonor is already asking in school for them to curtsy to her...
I don't believe that. I don't want to criticise Peñafiel, he will have his sources, but Letizia is too smart for that to happen.
The press has a gift with this queen. She could have been a boring Norwegian like Eva Sannum and instead we get a characterful journalist.
I'm sorry because I criticised her and when I met her she seemed very nice. She's very Bourbon, more so than her husband who's dull. I asked them how they found Barcelona and Felipe answered like a robot: "I always like to come to Barcelona. It's a city I always like to visit". He's not spontaneous at all. But when I travel around Spain they speak very well of the king and awfully about Letizia, who's very distant. During an official visit when it was raining she exclaimed: "Who have we got for service that they've not brought my raincoat? What are they thinking?". A very unpleasant situation.
Is she doing better than him?
If they would let her be herself, she would improve. She's not in charge as much as they say. She's got a more progressive view of life. She knows what it means to earn a living. She would modernise the crown if they let her.
Will yours be the definitive book on the Bourbons?
If a car doesn't run me over, I'll do it. I'm collecting everything. I don't censure myself too much. I said that king Juan Carlos has a secret daughter and I know that he has two more, but I don't have proof. Spain isn't shocked, but its journalists are very reserved. When I explained the former king's infidelities in my book La soledad de la reina (literally, "The queen's solitude"), everyone asked me how I could publish it and now they say I was right. There are journalists convincing the king's secret daughter to give an interview.
Are journalists covering the royal family scared of reprisals?
My monarchist friends accuse me of harming Spain by explaining the crown's secrets. Some colleagues, from the newspaper ABC for example, leaked information about the king to me that they couldn't report. And in public the same people who'd told me everything would contradict me. I prefer to remember the good things about my colleagues, that they always help me.
Juan Carlos is happy when you talk about his many lovers, he seems like Julio Iglesias...
There's a mystery around Julio Iglesias. What's happening with him now he doesn't appear anywhere, he doesn't perform or travel. Nothing. His friends no longer visit him. I know that Julio gets incredibly bored with his family. He doesn't know where the glasses are, nor what the servants names are. He's out of his comfort zone. I don't know if he's ill or worse than we think.
They've always said you were involved with him...
He was attractive, seductive. In Ibiza 30 years ago he took of his t-shirt and threw it to me. I've still got it. With his wife, Miranda, that's a signed agreement. She looks after the kids and the administration by contract. Julio had a vasectomy to not have more children. Now, they say he's a good lover. And I know that he sleeps in white pants.
Let's end with the En Blau test. I give you a name, you give me one word: king Juan Carlos
A poor woman
I respect him
An older woman who tries to make herself young and doesn't always manage it.