One of the most influential international political journals, Foreign Policy, has published a report on the Spanish monarchy, which it considers could be just a step away from disappearing altogether, due to the scandals centred on former king Juan Carlos I. The title of the US magazine's article asks the question directly: "Is Spain’s royal family finished?"
Charting the Spanish royal family's decline in public esteem from the time when the king was considered a national saviour in 1981, through its rapid descent into scandals of corruption and irresponsibility this century, the political journal says bluntly that this latest affair could be "the nail in the coffin" for the Bourbon monarchy.
According to Foreign Policy, the letter in which Juan Carlos I announced his exile to his son is the latest step in a "downward spiral" that began eight years ago. And it adds that now it is no longer a matter of "protecting the reputation of the institution" but also of Juan Carlos looking for self-protection against the risk of being prosecuted. "This is not the first time that a member of the House of Bourbon has resorted to these tactics in times of crisis," recalls the article in reference to the flight of earlier monarchs Alfonso XIII (in 1931) and Isabel II (1868).
The US journal recalls that Swiss prosecutor Yves Bertossa began an investigation in 2018 into Juan Carlos I, into the "gift" of 88 million euros (104 million dollars) he received from the king of Saudi Arabia in 2008, and on the "suspected kickbacks" on a 6.7 billion euro contract granted to Spanish companies for the construction of a high-speed rail line between Medina and Mecca.
The magazine describes the attempts of current king Felipe VI to try and decouple the institution from this drift into decadence, cutting off all relations with Juan Carlos I, which - as the article notes - is something he also had to do with his sister Cristina in 2015. However, concludes Foreign Policy, just as Spain's deep recession six years ago worsened the perception of the royal family's abuses at that time, the current coronavirus health and economic crisis means that "the timing is just as disastrous" for the monarchy.
Military group voices supports for Juan Carlos
Meanwhile, a group of military aides de camp who were in the service of king Juan Carlos have sent him a letter showing their support for his recent departure from Spain, according to the Spanish digital daily Voz Populi. The contents of the letter are not known and neither, perhaps more importantly, is the address to which it was sent, as the whereabouts of the king emeritus have been a mystery since Monday, August 3rd.
In fact, rather than "unknown", Juan Carlos's location is better described as "undisclosed" since the Spanish government has assigned him bodyguards, which could have a considerable public cost, but neither the Spanish government nor the Zarzuela royal palace are willing to disclose any information about this issue.
The letter of support was signed by the military assistants who worked under Juan Carlos at the Zarzuela during the previous head of state's reign. They are thus a group of high-ranking soldiers - colonels, lieutenant colonels, naval and frigate captains at the time when they served under the monarch. Most of them have now retired, although some are in the reserve and some remain in active service. A similar private letter of support was written to Juan Carlos I at the time of his abdication in 2014.