The reign in Spain


THE Spanish are not born monarchists but benevolently damn Felipe VI with faint praise by admitting that he “does his best.”

Nor is there a political divide, as even those who vote to the right are not necessarily royal groupies.

In Xativa (Valencia) where I now live, Felipe V’s portrait hangs upside down in the local museum because he set fire to the city in 1707 after it backed Archduke Carlos of Austria’s claim to the Spanish throne.

Interestingly, the portrait was reversed in the 1940s by a Franco-supporting mayor during the dictatorship. It has remained upside down ever since, during local governments of all colours and will stay that way until a Borbon king visits Xativa and apologises.

Felipe VI has not yet set foot there and is unlikely to do so.  The same can be said for his self-exiled father, Juan Carlos I, who now lives a life of luxury in Abu Dhabi after blotting his copybook in multiple ways.

The interesting thing about Juan Carlos is that during the period when he helped to steer Spain through the transition to democracy, even republicans eventually became Juancarlistas, including the Communist leader Santiago Carillo.

Few could have foreseen when he was proclaimed king in November 1975 that  Juan Carlos would uphold democracy and extricate the country from a military coup in February 23 1981.

Everybody around at the time was relieved that he pulled it off for a variety of reasons.  Apart from my own political leanings I was exceptionally glad as my husband was in Valencia, one of the coup hotspots where there were tanks on the streets. It was even worse for my Benidorm neighbours, a socialist lawyer and his teacher wife who were politically active and hurriedly burnt incriminating papers and books.

Juan Carlos, his reputation shot, might now resemble a florid Borbon in one of Goya’s more unflattering portrait, but every February we still have much to thank him for.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at