Linda Hall: Of cabbages and kings

Linda Hall: Of cabbages and kings

Image Credit: Marcos del Mazo/

I THOUGHT I was going to see a Coronation on November 22, 1975, when I went to the hotel over the road from where we lived in Benidorm.

We didn’t have a television – that’s a story for another day – and my daughter and I were lucky to get a seat in the already-crowded television lounge. It was winter and the low season, but a party of high-ranking Army officers was staying there, although I never did find out if they were on a jolly or business.

Franco had died two days earlier and the man whom he had named as his successor, Juan Carlos, Prince of Asturias, was proclaimed King in the Palacio de Las Cortes, Spain’s parliament building.

Spain was still shellshocked, although Franco’s long-drawn-out death came as no surprise. And yes, I did see people toasting his death on November 20.

In those days I did my shopping at a small indoor market in the centre of the town and when I went in as usual, one of the stallholders, a greengrocer whom everyone knew was a communist, was drinking cava, although we called it champagne in the days before the French lay permanent claim to the name.  There were more people knocking it back on the corner of the street too.

Two days later, I was disappointed to see that the crown and a sceptre, accompanied by a crucifix, remained throughout on a footstool covered in red and gold brocade.

Instead, Juan Carlos, still handsome and with his copybook still unblotted, was not crowned but sworn in as King in a proclamation that ended with the words ¡Viva el Rey!

At which, all the Army officers present leapt to their feet and bellowed in unison, “¡Viva el Rey!”

Some people joined in, some didn’t but we all stood as the Spain’s national anthem was played, aware – in one of those moments that nobody ever forgets – that this was the start of something new.

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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