If King Juan Carlos had fallen down and broken his hip on his way to the loo in the middle of the night in the royal palace in Madrid, the only thing the country would be interested in now would be his medical condition and his safe recovery. But no, he wasn’t at home, he was on his way to the loo while on safari hunting elephants in Botswana.
In fact his slip could not have been more unfortunate. The Head of State in a country with an unemployment rate through the roof and an economy struggling to survive goes on a little trip to Africa to shoot elephants. If he had been hunting deer, say, on his estate somewhere in Madrid, then OK, it was only to be expected. Royals and aristocrats hunt; the King’s eldest grandson shot himself in the foot just a few days previously learning to follow the family tradition – another unfortunate incident, now overshadowed by this latest escapade.
If he had been in Africa just visiting friends, we would probably be more sympathic as well. But the fact that he was out to kill elephants of all things is what has caused first disbelief, then amusement (comedy writers couldn’t come up with a better scenario) and finally serious moral and ethical questions.
The unfortunate accident coincided to the day with the anniversary of the proclamation of Spain’s Second Republic on April 14th 1931, when the present King’s grandfather was forced into exile. This week the Government, which has been very shady about whether or not the Prime Minister had been informed of the King’s hunting trip, has asked that the slip not be used to question the Monarchy. Too late: with drastic spending cuts being made on all sides, questions as to whether the country can afford to keep a royal family, with their expensive, dangerous and controversial pastimes, have been inevitable.
But whether we like it or not Spain has a King and royals spend their time hunting, even elephants in Africa, the bigger the game the better. They have done for hundreds of years. And now in modern times of democracy when a monarch has been relieved of his original duty to govern a country, then there’s more time than ever to indulge in aristocratic fun. We want a monarchy, then that’s what we get.
Filed under: General by Rachel Haynes