Friday, 1 May 2015

The Spanish Untouchables

Busto del Rey Juan Carlos I de España en su vi...

A new tell-all book that details what led to Spanish king Juan Carlos giving up the throne would never have been published just a few years ago in a Spain still deferential to the royal family, experts said.

The volume spares no details on Carlos's 10-year relationship with a German mistress, an infamous elephant hunting debacle and Princess Cristina's upcoming trial in one of Spain's longest-running corruption scandals.

"It's not the king who has changed, it's self-censorship that has changed," said celebrity journalist Antonio Montero.

"Before people knew things and didn't reveal them, but now they are coming out," he added.

"Final de Partida" or "End Game", which debuted Tuesday and nearly sold out its 25,000 copies in 24 hours, comes less than a year after Juan Carlos stepped down in June 2014.

The 77-year-old royal had been off limits to critical reports because of his role in guiding Spain's transition to democracy following the death of longtime dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975.

Juan Carlos became a symbol of stability in the country's young democracy.

"End Game" author Ana Romero instead shows a physically weakened sovereign, whose three children do not visit, "sitting on an empty couch in front of the TV".

Romero believes the acceptance of a tougher depiction of Juan Carlos stems from the influence of a more critical foreign press, which became accessible with the Internet's spread as well as the boom of social media and a string of royal scandals.

There was the 2012 photo of Juan Carlos posing with an elephant he killed on safari in Botswana at a time when Spain was grappling with record unemployment and risked needing an international bailout.

The ex-king's mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, who is 27 years his junior, was among those who accompanied him on the pricey trip.

Juan Carlos thought of divorcing his wife queen Sofia with whom "he had not been living for years," the book claims, though members of his entourage discouraged him from doing so.

The royal family declined to comment on the book.

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