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Royal wedding - UK & World Politics
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peterharvey
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peterharvey
Royal wedding
For my comments on yesterday's wedding in Madrid, click on comments below.

Peter
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Comments
peterharvey From: peterharvey Date: May 23rd, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
We had our royal wedding yesterday, and from the theatrical point of view everything went fine apart from the weather, the archbishop dropping one of the coins (which are exchanged to symbolise wealth in the marriage), and Felipe fluffing his lines. Letizia is divorced (as are her parents) but that was no problem for the Church as her previous wedding had been civil, not religious. Security was obviously tight – only two helicopters, one police and one TV, were allowed into Madrid’s airspace and the nearby air force base was on permanent alert. However, there were no incidents and the number of calls to the emergency services was an all-time low. This was the first wedding of an heir to the Spanish throne since 1906, when an Anarchist bomb killed over 20 people during the procession – and terrorism is still an obvious threat of course.

Felipe always said that he would marry for love and his father agreed with this. There has never been any serious suggestion that there is anything wrong with his marrying a commoner, though the Norwegian lingerie model of a few years ago was too much for many people; it is said that after he was forced to give her up he threatened to abdicate from the succession if he was frustrated again in his marriage plans. Letizia was a news presenter on TVE and her father and grandmother have both worked in radio.

The Spanish crown prince is the Prince of Asturias, and Felipe takes a serious interest in the province. As it happens, Letizia is also from there. The government of Asturias gave them an apple tree and a cider press as a present, and an Asturian pipe band played their anthem as they left the cathedral. The Prince of Asturias Prizes are a smaller-scale Spanish version of the Nobel Prizes and are highly regarded internationally.

The wedding is an important part in Spain’s constitutional progress. Juan Carlos is well-liked, and Felipe is certainly popular, but Republicanism is a fairly strong under-current in Spain and a number of people are ‘Juancarlistas’ rather than monarchists. Spain has a history of throwing out monarchs, and there is still a memory of the medieval oath to the Aragonese-Catalan kings ‘We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws – but if not, not.’ My guess is that when the time comes Felipe will be accepted but he will have to work for it first. The monarchy is widely seen, and not least by the King himself, as an important institution of Spain’s constitutional democracy, and as long as it remains under democratic control it is hardly worth opposing in republican principle. However, the Catalan Republicans and the Green/Communists did not attend, but the Basque Nationalists did turn up after having threatened initially not to. The leaders of the country’s two trade unions were there in lounge suits instead of morning dress; the representation at the wedding of all the institutions of the State was seen as an important symbol. Some people said it should not have been a religious service as Spain is a secular State.

[continued below]
peterharvey From: peterharvey Date: May 23rd, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
[continuation]

At present the Spanish constitution provides for males to have precedence over females, which is why Felipe is the heir rather than his two elder sisters. The new government plans to change this, and the King is in favour (Aznar was unwilling to raise the matter). However, because of the complex requirements for changing that part of the Constitution this will not happen until the next general election in four years’ time. If by then they have produced a son, the question will be irrelevant for another generation but I think the reform will go ahead anyway as a symbol of equality and modernity.

The celebrations were an excellent showcase for Madrid and Spain, as well as being a relief after the horrors of 11 March. There was a fair amount of fuss about it in advance, though Spain does not share Britain’s utter obsession with celebrities. Letizia’s dress was designed by Manuel Partegaz, a leading Spanish designer, and the food was in the hands of two leading Spanish chefs. Top-level Spanish cooking is approaching, or even surpassing, the French in reputation. At the dinner the evening before the wedding wine from some up-and-coming regions was served (Somontano and Ribera del Duero) but for the meal yesterday they had the classic cava, Galician white wine, and Rioja provided by the wine regulating councils of those areas in unlabelled bottles so that nobody would know which wine had been served at the dinner.

The cathedral may have seemed a little austere to those who expect Roman Catholic churches to be more ornate. The reason is that like many Spanish churches it was burnt and looted during the civil war.

Peter
From: g_matthews Date: May 28th, 2004 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Prince Charles

The Guardian pointed out that in the photo line up Prince Charles had been shunted to a very obscure position in the fourth row. The writer suggested that he has had some kind of falling out with the king, with whom in the past he is said to have been very close.

This whole story has very little to do with politics and should really be in OK magazine or the Hello (the English version of "Hola!), but I wonder whether there is anything in it. Has Charles been for or against the activities in Iraq? Or is there some other source of friction? Today's Mirror is hinting at trouble with women.

peterharvey From: peterharvey Date: May 28th, 2004 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Prince Charles

George,

I read that article in the Guardian but have seen nothing about it here. I have no idea what it could be about.

Of course it is mostly social but it does have a political aspect for the future of Spanish democracy that has been covered seriously here. It is also interesting to see how European monarchies (and those in Jordan and Morocco) are modernising and adapting to changed conditions. The UK is unquestionably the odd one out in that respect.

Peter
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