The abdication of Juan Carlos de Borbón as king of Spain may have given a boost to support for the Spanish monarchy but it seems that the Spanish are far from enthusiastic about the feudal institution.
The new king is taking over from his dad today but there are no pictures of him, bunting or flags to be seen in the streets. And the souvenir shops are not selling mementos of the great occasion.
None of the pomp of British coronations was to be seen. The new king did wear an army uniform for his swearing-in. He has never served in the army but he is commander in chief of the armed forces so perhaps we should not complain about that!
The swearing-in was in the parliament building and he swore allegiance to the constitution. That would be difficult in this country with its pretend constitution and where legislators swear their allegiance to the Windsor family.
No heads of state or “royal” comrades were present for the swearing-in. The crown was but it did not go on the monarch’s head.
In the word of the Financial Times it was to be “a sober act of constitutional mechanics rather than a mysterious transfer of ancient and divine rights. Tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of gilded carriages, ermine robes and silk-clad princesses face bitter disappointment”.
How different to the disunited queendom. The “austere” Spanish ceremony has been attributed to Spain’s dire financial position. But it is not difficult to imagine British monarchists using similar circumstances to justify lavish ceremonies to cheer up the adoring masses.
But to quote the FT again “a sizeable number of Spanish voters and politicians want to have nothing to do with the monarchy”. A majority want a referendum on their monarchy. And a majority of those aged 18-34 want a republic, as do a majority of those who consider themselves on the left of Spanish politics.
Republicans organised a mass rally in a square not far from the where the new monarch was being sworn in. It is doubtful that that would be allowed here where pre-emptive arrests have been used to prevent republicans expressing their opposition to monarchy and politicians hate to offend their royal masters.