Last week the Royal Household announced that King Juan Carlos had successfully undergone hip replacement surgery to repair minor damage related to arthritis. It was also announced that Don Juan Carlos fell during a private trip to Botswana.
The backlash was immediate and completely unexpected for the King, who has always been respected and beloved by the Spanish people and politicians alike and protected by the press. But after the fraud scandal still surrounding his son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín, the recent accident of Infanta Elena’s son and the harsh economic situation in Spain (which was particularly bleak that week) the reactions were not mild. In fact, the judgement of the King was criticised to the point that serious journalists and two prominent socialist politicians wondered if the Royal Household should prepare for an abdication and the start of the reign of Felipe VI or at least a regency.
On April 18, the day King Juan Carlos left the hospital, the state television (TVE) recorded the King’s first public words since the news of his hunting trip broke out. It was an unprecedented apology: “I am very sorry, I made a mistake and it won’t happen again”
Four days later, on Sunday 22 two national newspapers (El Mundo and La Razón) published a poll each. The apology was effective and the overall results are mostly positive:
Poll of El Mundo:
- 70% of Spaniards forgive the King unlike 20% who don’t.
- 72% believe it was good or very good of him to apologize.
- 73% of Spaniards consider that King Juan Carlos reign has been good or very good (only 8% consider his reign badly or very badly)
- 62% do not approve of the Botswana hunting trip (30% do approve of it)
- 62% consider the king should not accept this kind of gifts. (Don Juan Carlos was invited by a Saudi businessman)
- 52% believe that the Crown’s image has been tarnished.
Poll of La Razón:
- 50.2% believe the Monarchy is an essential institution.
- 71% consider Prince Felipe ready to take over his father.
- 52% reject the idea of an abdication.
- 59% consider the hunting trip a mistake.
- 81% consider politicians should follow the King’s example and apologize when they make a mistake.
- 52% value the Monarchy more than they value the political class.