El Pais publishes an interesting editorial today about, inevitably, yesterday’s royal wedding in Madrid. Of course all the Spanish media offer special editions today with photos and news of Prince Felipe’s marriage to Letizia, now Princess Letizia, but the editorial of El Pais looks at it from a slightly different angle and talks about this being Spain’s first democratic royal wedding.
El Pais remembers that yesterday was the first time since Juan Carlos became Head of State of Spain 30 years ago, that the Spanish monarchy was the centre of attention of the whole country because of who they are rather than what they represent constitutionally. As El Pais points out, the King and Queen of Spain have managed over the past 30 years to win the respect of most democrats in Spain and their popularity is reflected in the fact that most people in Spain would say they live in a democracy rather than under a monarchy. Even republican and separatist politicians respect the King, inspite of their differences, and have never refused to make the traditional visit to the Palace after elections when political parties who have won seats in the Spanish parliament are expected to present their policies to the King.
Yesterday, and in the weeks leading up to the royal wedding, some republican criticisms of the cost of the celebrations and the disruption caused in Madrid by the event were expressed in the media and on websites, but it never turned into the big “monarchy si, monarchy no” debate it might have done given the diversity of Spain and the fact that the country was a Republic until relatively recently.
As El Pais points out, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia will have a very difficult job in achieving the same degree of popular and political support enjoyed by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, but it is an achievement they will have to aspire to if they are to further consolidate the monarchic system in Spain and keep Republican demands at bay.
Yesterday’s wedding was very different from the weddings of the Prince’s two sisters, in the pomp, the guests and the protocol. The Socialist Government has announced that in its plans for constitutional reform, it wants to include a change in the Spanish laws of succession so that females as well as males can be heirs to the throne.
The Palace wanted to convey that this was the wedding of Spain’s heir to the throne, and they certainly managed that. The Royal Family also tried to tone down the ceremony out of respect for the victims of the 11-M terrorist attack in Madrid, and they managed that too. The main critics of the celebrations have come from the gossip side of the media (publications and programmes featuring news about famous people are very very popular in Spain).
Commentators working for this kind of media have criticised how serious and tense Letizia was yesterday, how there was a somber feeling about the whole thing (made worse by the weather), how not as many people as expected lined the streets, how the dress wasn’t romantic enough and how the couple did not express their joy as openly as they should have (i.e. the kiss wasn’t long enough and they didn’t cry with emotion).
El Pais puts the wedding into a political and historical perspective. It applauds the Crown’s organization of the event in difficult circumstances, welcomes the fact that room was found for representatives of all Spain’s parliamentary groups to participate in the event and thinks that the image Madrid gave yesterday to the rest of the world is exactly the one Spain needed to give. The editorial concludes by saying that yesterday’s wedding, far from just being yet another social occasion for the gossip media to feed on, should be regarded as a further example of the stability and longevity of the Spain’s democratic system.
The couple start their honeymoon in Cuenca.