As Queen Letizia of Spain celebrates her fiftieth birthday behind the gilded gates of the Zarzuela palace close to Madrid on Thursday, she is unlikely to need the glare of the world’s media to get a glimpse of the festivities.
The fanfare across the queen’s birthday celebrations has centered consideration in Spain on the way in which she has helped to remodel the fortunes of the nation’s royal household, observers of the monarchy say.
A small cottage trade has sprung up with books revealed to mark the event. Queen Letizia was the star of a latest documentary collection concerning the royal household referred to as Los Borbones (the Bourbons) and a spate of newspaper profiles have adopted.
When King Felipe and Letizia acceded to the crown in 2014, the monarchy had fallen to its lowest degree of recognition for the reason that restoration of democracy in 1975 after the loss of life of the dictator Basic Francisco Franco.
The previous king Juan Carlos abdicated after a succession of monetary scandals and revelations about ladies he was not married to. After leaving the throne, the 84-year-old ex-monarch confronted three judicial investigations into allegations of corruption which had been ultimately shelved.
He has spent two years in self-imposed exile within the United Arab Emirates after leaving Spain in 2020 amid a cloud of monetary scandal. When he returned to Spain briefly this summer time, he appeared puzzled when journalists requested him if he want to apologise to Spaniards over his conduct. “For what?” he mentioned.
Juan Carlos nonetheless faces a trial subsequent yr in London after his ex-mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein alleged he harassed her and her kids within the British capital for years.
Legal professionals for the previous king claimed he was immune from prosecution as he was a member of the royal household however a Excessive Courtroom choose in London dismissed this declare.
Juan Carlos was granted partial permission to attraction occasions earlier than 2014 when he was king, in keeping with zu Sayn-Wittgenstein’s attorneys, who added nonetheless that the majority of her case pertains to alleged occasions after 2014. Legal professionals for Juan Carlos mentioned they didn’t need to remark.
Revered for the way in which he steered Spain from dictatorship to democracy and stood down a failed army coup in 1981, Juan Carlos is now extra of a legal responsibility to monarchists, observers say.
“No matter Felipe does, he’s at all times embarrassed by his father,” Pilar Eyre, the writer of a collection of books concerning the monarchy, informed Euronews.
When he acceded to the throne, King Felipe set about introducing reforms to stop a repeat of scandals which additionally embroiled his personal sister Princess Cristina. In 2017, she stood trial alongside along with her husband Iñaki Urdangarin on embezzlement fees and he was jailed for 5 years and solely emerged from jail final yr. The princess was acquitted.
Letizia’s energy has been that she has by no means been tarnished by scandal and seems to be attempting, with Felipe, to tug the establishment of monarchy into the twenty first century. The royal household has been slimmed right down to solely the fast household and a collection of anti-corruption measures have been adopted like a ban on presents and collaborating in enterprise.
Mábel Galaz, a journalist and writer of Royal Letizia, a biography of the Spanish queen which is revealed in Spain this week, mentioned each Felipe and Letizia have labored as a crew to distance the royal household from the scandals which had threatened the monarchy.
“She has no hyperlink to any scandals in any respect which has helped the monarchy,” she informed Euronews.
“However we must always not overlook that Felipe introduced a brand new interval when he acceded to the crown. He wished to make the household smaller and introduce reforms which might cease any contamination sooner or later.”
She mentioned that the royal couple have additionally promoted Princess Leonor, the inheritor to the throne, as the brand new face of the trendy monarchy.
Leonor, 17, is finding out for her ultimate yr of college on the UWC Atlantic Faculty in Wales – referred to as the Hogwarts for Hippies – as the varsity is in a Twelfth-century citadel.
When she is in Spain, Leonor has already given speeches alongside her youthful sister Sofia and the longer term queen will practice with the armed forces when she leaves faculty.
Amid preliminary hostility from Juan Carlos, different members of the royal household and conservative courtiers, Letizia struggled to win over Spaniards. At first, the Spanish media typically portrayed her as distant and unapproachable, however that is altering.
In a latest profile of the queen in El País newspaper, Pilar Cancela, Spain’s secretary of state for worldwide cooperation, mentioned: “The Queen is our most necessary assist. I believed she was chilly and distant, however she is skilled, regular and enjoyable.”
Nevertheless, regardless of the ‘Letizia impact’, the drip-drip of scandals plaguing the royal household has spurred help for the republican trigger.
A ballot in June for El Confidencial, a web-based information web site, discovered that 39% of Spaniards supported changing the monarchy with a republic, whereas 38.9% supported the crown.
The far-left Unidas Podemos (United We Can) social gathering, the junior social gathering in Spain’s coalition authorities, has pressed for a referendum on the way forward for monarchy however the transfer has been resisted by different political events so stands little likelihood of prospering.
“A succession of polls has proven that Spain is split on the query of whether or not we must always have a monarchy or a republic and that we must always have a referendum on the problem,” José Manuel García, an economist and republican campaigner, informed Euronews.
This story has been up to date to replicate that the previous King has been granted partial permission to attraction the ruling.