Palace Mandarins and Letizia
I was surfing the net last night reading up on the ascension of King Juan Carlos to throne of Spain. The intrigues, marriage of Infante Alfonso with Franco's grand-daughter and efforts of Alfonso to gain the throne etc., have made me appreciate the King and Queen of Spain even more. They were very young couple (in their 20s) and how they alone navigated the minefield is downright impressive.
Anyway, reading all this background brought 3 things to the fore-front for me -
1. The highly conservative and powerful nature of people behind the throne
2. The efforts of Juan and Sofia to reestablish monarchy, even at the cost of King's relationship with his father who should have been the King.
3. How opponents manipulate press to play behind the scenes games that we the public are not even aware of.
I have now a visceral feel for the straight jacket that Letizia was placed in, and how much her situation is so different than that of other royal families. I see the charges against Leti in the new book with a whole different set of eyes -eyes of political opponents of the crown -to send a message to the royal family. Juan Carlos was sent a similar message when an article on Point de Vue in late 60s which had an incendiary quote from Juan Carlos - a quote that was never given. The article was just meant to be a photo spread of Juan and his young family. But the enemies (his own father's confidants who wanted the father to be the king, and those who wanted Infante Alfonso) manipulated the reporter to say that Juan Carlos said that he would never differ with his father's quest to regain the throne. Franco's supporters went into conniptions and a lot of damage control had to be done by Juan Carlos for something that had never been said.
I now understand why Felipe and Letizia have never given an interview.
Visits to factories and such
I also gained new appreciation for the routine visits the royal couple make to factory openings etc. Most of our interest is in clothes that Letizia wears. But from reading I gathered how critically important these are to Felipe and Letizia in building alliances for their succession to the throne. I can imagine the preparation that goes into these seemingly casual visits and the work involved in gaining the trust of people there. Felipe and Letizia cannot afford to just be a good looking couple. They have to be on their mark, working the crowd all the time.
I read that Juan Carlos had to fight tooth and nail with some of the old guard to conduct these visits, while Infante Alfonso was given the red carpet treatment. One such incident I read was that Juan badly wanted to visit a new port opening(or a factory in a port area) and how he was thwarted in his efforts.
Can the Spaniards here shed more light into current palace mandarins?
I get the impression that they are highly conservative and rigid lot. I am really impressed how Letizia has so overwhelmingly changed her persona from a go-getter, up & coming journalist to that of a silent wife supporting her husband. I can just picture these mandarins having a "mold Letizia" project.
This leads to the recent angst on this board and several others about the way Leti is dressing recently. I'll admit that the length of skirts and her general fashion sense in recent years have left me scratching my head. Part of me thinks that if it was bad, these hawkish mandarins must have said something to Leti. If not these mandarins, then Felipe, Sofia or any of her aristocratic friends could have been asked by the mandarins to tell Leti that her dresses are a bit unseemly. I mean these guys seem to be more monarchists than may be the monarch himself. The other thought is that her fashion may be a conscious attempt (though perhaps inept) to project the image of young, vibrant couple to attract the middle-class youth constituency/
Same goes for the Cristina/Letizia stories. Afterall,the offense that Leti seems to have committed (not letting Cristina's in-laws stay at her house) is not worth giving anti-monarchists yet another weapon to clobber Leti and Felipe. It is a trivial thing in the big scheme of things! Why did they take so long to put this fire out?
Perhaps the mandarins in the Prince's household are not really the aggressive kind...and the mandarins at Kings household are too old and have lost touch, fragmented, letting their own egos play Cristina versus Leti etc
Feel free to shed some light here...and forgive me if I made mistakes in my understanding of Spanish past.
The Spain of then is not the Spain of now, the country has changed very much. Always there will be sectors that they criticize, for example, the ultraconservative that lost their power with Franco always they will accuse partly to the Monarchy because of it.
But the House of the King has evolved very much, probably it is more a problem of the age of the King and the education that received. When the King began his reign, military men were managing the House, now diplomatics make it. And they are not excessively serious persons and conservatives, they see the things of another form and act in consequence.
Always I have thought that there is a map of work, and that though sometimes some people do not understand it, more in these forums where monarchies are compared with others ... eventually they know that they must pass the problems to reach a more important aim. Sometimes they have mistakes, but I believe that in general they know which is the country at which they worked.
The Princess had to acquire resposabilidades little by little, if making it like that she has not escaped to the critiques, imagine what had happened if from the first day she had had many responsibilities. And it is not because she is a woman, not for whom she is ... it is simply because she is the new one, the foreign one to the family, and for the people she has to learn and to gain it. Marichalar and Urdangarín always were the shade of their wives, they never have had an own responsibility in the Royal Family.
The people or yellow press can speak about the clothes of the Princess ... but ultimately the important thing is what she does. The clothes of Mango, the most short skirt .... they do not bother the people in general.
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