Let’s hear it for Juan Carlos

I used to think he hadn’t done a bad job restoring democracy to Spain after Franco.

His Greek wife Sofia is a perfect consort, and they had avoided most of the scandals and problems that have beset the British monarchy.

It’s a Catholic state but it seemed it was ok for Prince Felipe (heir to the throne) to marry a divorced journalist who was pretty popular with everyone, and natch, they managed to produce a couple of kids pretty quickly.

Not too clever when the husband of his (JC)’s younger daughter Cristina was charged in a fraud and embezzlement case.

But still that’s not his fault. What Inaki Urdangarin does is up to him, although marrying into a royal family would seem to carry a bit of a responsibility with it. Anyway, can’t be bothered to chase up the latest position on that one.

What is important is dear old JC. It seems he has been saying he can’t sleep at night because of concerns about Spain’s youth unemployment problem.

Hello JC! It’s not just youth, it is EVERYONE!

But still, when you can’t sleep at nights because of worries about your country’s unemployment problems, what do we all do? That’s right, we fuck off to Botswana to hunt elephants.

Here is a nice piccy from the web courtesy of whoever, not mine, but seems to be published all over the place.


Go on, look. Here we have an affluent European monarch who can’t sleep at nights, happily hunting elephants. In fact, if you look at this site below, you can see them with a few dead buffalos too. Doesn’t seem like the first time they have done it. What is it with royals and rich people that they need to blast the shit out of defenceless animals? What good does it do? Does it give someone a job in Spain? Does it fuck.

El mundo

Words fail me.

Apparently, the Spanish media are really worried about his injury. He fell and broke his hip …

A palace spokesman said a surgeon operated on the king immediately on his return to Madrid overnight, but could not say exactly when the accident took place.

Spanish newspapers said Juan Carlos is a keen huntsman and has frequently visited Botswana, whose vast game reserves are considered prime elephant-hunting destinations.

The private trip was not listed on his agenda of official engagements and the palace declined to say what he was doing when he fell.
The palace said it would give a further update on his condition in the coming hours. Media reports said the king was likely to stay in hospital for 10 days.

Source here.

Well, really, who cares? And the royal palace needs a better PR department too. Because when there are photos of kings with dead animals splashed all over the internet, saying it’s a private engagement ain’t good enough.

This is, of course, my nice reportage blog about life in Spain and Gib. But when I read garbage like this, it becomes a bit harder-hitting.

I’m going to quote in full from Revolting Europe – see how the royal family and the church get away lightly and the average person in the street struggles to get by:

The administration of Mariano Rajoy, elected last November in a landslide victory against the Socialists, revealed Tuesday details of one of the most draconian budgets anywhere in the West in recent times.

The government said it would make savings of €27 billion for the rest of 2012 from the central government budget, equivalent to around 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP). The figure includes tax rises and spending cuts of around €15 billion announced in December.

Adding in cuts to regional authorities, the total cuts amount to €42 billion, putting the cuts package as deeper than even those passed or planned in Greece, Portugal and Ireland, the country’s that were ‘bailed out’ the IMF-EU-ECB Troika.

The losers
Spending is to be cut by 16.9% across Spain’s ministries:  education spending will be slashed by 22% with 37% cuts to  pre-school and primary school budgets and 11% reduction in grants and other support to students; culture axed by 15%;  health will be reduced by 6.8%; and social services axed by 6%.

Among those budgets that also faced sharp reductions are government employment schemes with €1.6 billion savings to be made and the public sector pay bill, as wages will be frozen.

Ordinary Spaniards, struggling with a wages squeeze and record 5 million unemployment, will also face a rise in electricity bills of 7% and of gas bills by 5% from this month.

The winners
Spain’s Royal Family got off lightly however, with just 2% reduction in budget, as did the Church that will face tiny cuts, maintaining huge subsidies worth as much as €11 billion annually  via direct aid, exemptions from property taxation and other financial support.

Tax dodgers and mafia types, were also among the winners in this budget, as they will benefit from a tax amnesty whereby they wlll be able to anonymously declare previously illegally hidden capital on which they will pay a bargain 8-10% rate.

And despite some modifications to taxation that will increase an estimated corporation tax receipts by 22% this year, large companies will continue paying corporation tax of just 16.3%, compared to 20% for small companies and  to 22% income tax.

The budget made no calls on banks despite them bringing the country to its knees with reckless lending that led to a housing boom and bust. The banking system recently received very generous government subsidies to assist in a merger and takeover process involving the struggling Cajas, the local savings banks most exposed to the now zombie property market. (Spanish banks have also swallowed billions of euros in near free loans from the European Central Bank as part of its two phase long-term refinancing operations in December and February.)

People, this is not a good time to be poor, unemployed, or an elephant in Botswana. However, if you are rich, titled, anything to do with a bank, a man in America (rather than a woman because everyone knows they should have no rights), then the world is your oyster. Or your elephant. Or even your buffalo as previously. Normal soft posts to resume shortly.

73 comments on “Let’s hear it for Juan Carlos

  1. I’m afraid I haven’t been able to read much more of your post after looking at that photo, I can’t get my mind to concentrate on anything else.
    The ‘I’m rich, so I can’ gutter slime (even that is too nice a description), make me want to vomit, who the fuck do they think they are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Sorry K, I wrote that and sat back for 5 minutes before deciding to post, if you want to delete it please do.


    • I always wanted an elephant!! I thought we had a big enough garden for one. I read about the story (in english and spanish because I wanted to get more points of view) and couldn’t not post. I wouldn’t normally have put it on here, (would have been a cloudy post), but it is about Spain and their arsey royal family. You don’t sympathise with a few young people out of work and then piss off to Botswana to kill elephants. But apparently you do.

      Sorry about the photo :( I didn’t like it either. But sometimes what I write doesn’t hit home. Maybe sometimes the photos like that don’t hit home. Who gives a shit whether some rich royal pots the odd elephant? apart from me, and you?


        • Elephants are among my favourite animals and it sickens me that someone should hunt them in the name of ‘Sport’. What sport is there in killing? I hadn’t realised it was a cure for insomnia caused by worry. If I were he, I think I’d have another worry to keep me awake now,- the drop in popularity.


          • This really isn’t a typical post on roughseas but I was so incensed by the whole story. Shooting elephants on a private hunting trip (or any trip as far as I am concerned), rocketing unemployment, and an attempted cover-up. Appalling.


  2. Hey, I like elephants too. Maybe I should buy some land in Botswana, so I can provide some elephants with a royals free zone.

    Talking of royals, I really like the proposal of the Australian PM, wish we would adopt it in the UK. She suggests that legislation should be passed now so that when Elizabeth II dies or becomes infirm, the monarchy dies with her, and everyone knows what will happen.

    I’m not entirely sure she has earned the 500 million or so she has been paid since she took over the job 60 years ago, but over the years to her credit she has made very few gaffes. However, her children are all obnoxious little tykes who just don’t know how to behave, and I really can’t see any of them making a monarch of any standing.

    I was also reading that Mario Monti (Italian PM) is looking at making the Catholic Church in Italy pay property taxes on the buildings that they own that are used for purposes other than worship. Seems the Catholic property portfolio in Italy alone is worth over a trillion euros, and levying the tax would bring in over 500 million euro in revenue for the Italian government.


    • I think you should too.

      It’s interesting that there is quite a bit of anti-monarchy stuff floating around again (Aus has always done it) but one of the Caribbean ones (? I think) is saying the same thing.

      I do wonder if people have the same view as you – what monarch? Who? While I would agree with Charles’ organic stance, (not particularly his profiteering), his hunting is deplorable. Before we even get into his morals. Or lack of. Anne? hard-working, speeding, and does her own thing really. Porky? The other one? Says it all really doesn’t it? No wonder she hasn’t abdicated.

      I’ve never had a strong view about the monarchy either way, but if you are sitting there representing a nation you have some values to uphold and expectations to meet. In the case of JC he has really failed. But like you, I think EII hasn’t done a bad job, and to be truthful, in difficult times.

      I do wonder where the church income goes?…..


      • Forgot to say, I assume there was such a lot of soppiness about the recent royal wedding, Wills and Kate (I’m really not up on this stuff) that you wondered if it was a last ditch hope that at least someone was going to be anything decent? But I think there is more to being a monarch than smiling and looking pretty with your nicely-dressed wife.


      • Funny really, there are two other ones, Andrew and Edward. I just think if you take that sort of money from the state you have to behave as an excellent role model, which none of them has; they have all shown a certain degree of moral bankruptcy. William, well, the nicest thing one can say about him is he is a bit dim; I wasn’t invited to the wedding and thought it would be rude to grandstand it. I don’t mind Charles talking to his plants, but listening to what they say to him, thats just potty, and Harry well, you’d want him to have a DNA test before he took the job.

        I think its Jamaica who are looking to vote out the monarchy.


        • I think it is Jamaica too. Up to them.

          yes, those are the ones who? do? what?

          I remember, one flew something in the Falklands. So did a lot of others. Some didn’t come back. One did.

          Fortunately I have lost touch with the younger versions.

          I do think Charles’ plants may provide more sage (?) advice though than anyone else….


  3. I heard this story just before heading out to walk the German between thunderstorms and wondered if it was just me that thought this odd…isn’t he honorary president or something of a Wildlife group? (So, one of the perks is to shoot an elephant…a species that is threatened from poachers?) Nothing says support conservation efforts like dropping one of the clients. (Uh, that pose is almost circus like…I guess prone elephants look really dead – and that might disturb the children…here you could say, “Look it’s kneeling to the king! What a clever elephant.”) Don’t really know much about the politics there, but the elephant policy is pretty clear.


    • Honorary president of the Spanish World Wide Fund (name varies depending on where you are).

      A bit like that other well-known royal – Prince Philip – interviewed on his 90th birthday:
      ‘And the long-term conservationist who was international president of the World Wildlife Fund railed against those overly concerned about animal welfare, describing them as “bunny huggers” ‘

      There was some previous wildlife controversy with PP but I forget what it was. Except he is still heading up the WWF. Plus ca change. If you have the money and the title.

      Indeed the pose was interesting. It doesn’t look too dead at all really does it? And those rifles are probably toy guns too.

      Hope the German enjoyed the walk :)


  4. I could get on my pedestal and shout, but I cannot spare the time to write. Your post is brilliant and I can honestly say I am glad I am not a royalist. Governments do seem to think their subjects are brain dead’s, that is their mistake. But yes I cannot abide this hierarchy with too much time on their hands and people too afraid to say NO to these spoilt privileged arseholes. Thanks for sharing..;)


    • Quite frankly the more people on their soap boxes the better. As I said above, I have never been pro or con any monarchy, but this is just grossly insensitive. Times change and priviliged royalists need to change too. Or otherwise ‘Off with their heads!’

      And thank you.


  5. I have loved Spain for so long. I’ve hated the bull fights, lechon, and all the ham everywhere you go, but I have loved Spain and the lovely Spanish people — I was a Spanish major, for Pete’s sake! Oh, well, it’s a good thing to have a reality check once in a while, isn’t it?
    Thanks for posting something hard to read, but that I need to know.


    • There is something wrong with most apparently lovely places – or to be more accurate, the people in them. I’m not a royalist, but I wasn’t anti either. But this sort of behaviour is despicable. And in two ways, one for just the act itself, and two, for hypocritically sympathising with the unemployed and then spending twenty or thirty thousand bucks to kill an elephant to get away from the country’s recession. That could have kept three unemployed spanish families for a year.


      • I agree with you, completely. It is just so sad, and I am so sad to be so…disillusioned. There is nothing that can make this right. And there is nothing that can make most evil things right, at least apart from God Himself.


  6. Great and topical post as usual. Also made Sydney news – http://www.smh.com.au/world/spaniards-livid-over-king-juan-carloss-elephant-hunt-20120417-1x49w.html. I too found the photo of the elephant & the triumphant hunters challenging. Another story circulating via SMH also http://www.smh.com.au/world/stripper-nuns-danced-for-berlusconi-trial-20120417-1x49f.html. I hope the world gets this in perspective. Who cares about stripper nuns? Not me, but I do care about evil bastards massacring elephants. What to do?


    • Thanks ED. I thought the SMH was a pretty good account, but I would as it made similar points to me. I wouldn’t normally post a photo like that, but I really wanted this story to hit home – and that said far more than I could write in thousands of words. My text is just an extended caption in a way. I also subscribe to an animal cruelty blog, which ALWAYS has horrific pix :( – but it’s no good sticking my head in the sand (someone might come up and shoot me) – and occasionally I’ll write about the odd story, not often because I know people don’t want to read it. As you pointed out, this one is international news, so I found it on a standard news feed.
      What to do? I don’t know. I do what I can do best, and that’s write about it and publicise it. Not just what I personally think (which is exactly the same as your words above), but also the local context. i don’t think I would be taking out a subscription to the WWF in a hurry.


  7. I saw the top of his head once from Farringtons OP on the Spanish facing side of the rock. He landed by helicopter at the football pitch just over the boarder to have a look at the oil tanker that exploded and sank whilst attempting to birth in Algeciras. He Had a very shiny bonce back even then :o)


    • Is that a claim to fame? :D

      As I said above, I think they have been a not bad royal family in the scheme of things, but this has just blown it totally apart, especially with the current disastrous economic situation.

      I don’t think he will be getting in his royal heli right now for while. And if he did and got out, I suspect he would be lynched.


  8. He handt do a bad job after Franco. I think we almost all agree. But is still what people uses to defend why we have King in Spain and I think Franco’s time and transition are already to far to keep Juan Carlos and his family where they are.


  9. I’m from Catalonia, ( A region who wants to be independent of Spain ), and Mr. JC has done nothing for the country. On the contrary, it shows how far behind Spain is.


    • I think we can all criticise our own country, I am more than happy to do so in the case of England and the UK. I tend to be a bit more moderate if I am criticising another country when I don’t have sufficient knowledge of not only the history, the politics, the culture, but also years of upbringing.

      bbecares made a good point above about the transition from Franco no longer being sufficient to keep the royal family in their elite position though. I have no idea what the unemployment is like in the north of Spain, but in Andalucía it is bad, very bad. If people didn’t have their families to help them out, they couldn’t manage.


  10. Congratulations on this post which seems to have generated a lot of interest. JC makes Prince Phillip look like a WWF conservationist – after all, all he did was cut down 63 knackered old oak trees in Windsor Great Park!


    • Thanks. I think part of that is about context. We can all write about whatever international news post strikes our interest, but I guess my advantage is providing an English-speaking perspective from ten years of living here, and I am lucky to have some Spanish readers of my blog.

      I have been looking for the hunting posts about Prince Philip, he did a lot more than cut trees down but that seems to be absent from the internet :(


  11. I think there are a few deer, especially former residents of Balmoral, who might disagree with Andrew about PP. The present monarch is indeed very popular in the UK, less so the rest of the Royal Family.


      • As above, there was a different hunting incident, not even sure if it was an African one but it was well back, and that’s before we (ie ME) even start on dear Charles, inducting his offspring into the rich elite sport of hunting in the UK.


        • According to the africahunting dot com website, Prince Philip was busy in India shooting Tigers in 1961. I’m not going to post a link as the wretched site glorifies hunting and there are too many pictures of innocent victims.


          • I would like to think Prince Phillip has got a conscience knowing he has helped put the tiger on the endangered list, but somehow I very much doubt it :-(


          • Just discussing this with Partner, and he said ‘I thought it was tigers.’ And I clicked on your comment. Thanks for not adding the link – but for providing the info. I thought it was rhinos but you were both correct.

            Then there was his trip to Saudi when his gin supply cost how much?? I am getting off topic. Neither he, nor Juan Carlos, nor Charles of Wales should be let anywhere near a World Wide/Wildlife Fund.


    • Thanks for that. Gotta love the Graudian. Good report though. Like the connection to helping the son-in-law with his neat financial business. And that JC is exempt from the legal process which I didn’t know. But his private life? rumours of sex on the side, I think that is what is meant by ‘lovers’? Really, who would want to even go near him? Oh, for another post.

      Seriously, thank for the linky.


  12. No you’ve got it all wrong: it’s being surrounded by dead animals you’ve killed that allows you to sleep at night and stop worrying about all those unemployed youth. (I thought everybody knew that.) And I’m sure he hasn’t given them another thought.

    (Great blog, I’ll be back to have a closer look. Right now I’ve got to put the compost in for tomorrow’s potato planting).


      • Thanks very much for your comments. They’re the first I’ve received, totally new to blogging. I read your first article on journalism and part of another (Clouds), very enjoyable even though it’s not a subject that arouses my curiosity very much. I’ll be looking in on your posts again. Cheers, Leon.


        • Leon, sorry I didn’t reply to this. Just going back through posts and finding ones that I must have missed when the posts were so busy. Thank you for returning the visit and your comments (on this and elsewhere of course).


  13. “Hey, I shot an innocent animal! Look!”
    Oh, wow, you’re so brave… NOT!
    “What, don’t you think this makes me look, MACHO?”
    Mm. What did I do with my gun? I have a dickhead to kill.

    Hope this sums up my perspective. :)


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