The Gifts of a King to a Grateful People

On Thursday the Financial Times published a notable little display of monarchist arrogance. It was an article by Charles Powell of the Elcano Royal Institute called “Abdication is the king’s final gift to a grateful Spain”.

You would not have thought that Spaniards in their thousands had been demonstrating for a referendum on their monarchy. If there was dissatisfaction, according to Mr. Powell, it was merely because of a few scandals and a general disaffection with the political system. A principled republican was not to be found in his Spain, it seemed.

The people of Spain, almost in their entirety, were grateful to Bourbon. Apparently, without his guidance the country would not have found its way back to democracy or into the EU and NATO.

The problems that the Spanish monarchy has faced recently were not its own fault. They were to be blamed on intrusive news media, the economic crisis, and disaffection with the political elite in general.

Powell wrote that “Some younger Spaniards, who have barely heard of Franco and take democracy for granted, increasingly see the monarchy as a dispensable institution”. So there are no older republicans. And those youngsters flirting with republicanism do not understand that monarchy is a guarantor of democracy, not its enemy!

Bourbon’s decision to abdicate was not a defeat but should “be seen as a brave and generous contribution to Spain’s long-overdue political renewal”.

In a final display of monarchist arrogance Powell wrote that the “immediate challenge” for the new king “will be to help forge a new constitutional settlement that guarantees the unity of the Spanish state while accommodating the demands of Catalan and other nationalists. This is a daunting task”.

Why the Spanish people should allow the new Bourbon this privileged role in the future of their country Powell did not explain. But who can doubt that it is because monarchs, and their apologists, know better than the people what is good for the people.