Queen Sofia Unamused by a Book Quoting Her

Matthew Palardy, one of my contributors to this blog has sent me an interesting article today from, of all places, the NY Times. I find that Her Majesty's comments to be perfect and refreshing. In a country which has all but renounced Catholicism it is good to hear that a Monarch to speak so plainly. You see, she tells the truth. Unfortunately for the Government of Spain she came off the "reservation" by doing something a Monarch or a Head of State must never do, namely she offended minority group. In this case the homosexuals. In any event the king has demonstrated less moral fibre with this group than his wife.

The NY Times in their charecteristic reporting, present the Queen as a 70 year old dottering fool who speaks before she thinks. The monarchy is viewed as a relic of the evil Spanish past who cling to religion (and the Inquesition).

The usual spineless spokeman says that the Queen was quoted "inexactly". I don't know how that could have happened to a woman who is "Elegant, circumspect, and fluent in several languages". Was the reporter speaking Martian? No! it is because she offended the homosexual community.

She is right. I would only that she returns to the lecturn and say it was her spokesman who was quoted "inexactly". King Juan Carlos, this is your opportunity to say I am proud of my Queen and “Why don’t you shut up?” to the left.

Published: November 17, 2008

MADRID — When the English monarch in Alan Bennett’s novella, “The Uncommon Reader,” decides to write her memoirs, she takes the prudent step of abdicating first. Queen Sofía of Spain may be wondering whether she, too, should have waited for her husband, King Juan Carlos, to leave the throne before granting a Spanish journalist a series of uncharacteristically candid interviews. The resulting book, “The Queen Up Close” by Pilar Urbano, has given Spaniards an uncomfortably close look at their queen’s conservative views.

Her comments on homosexuality, same-sex marriage, euthanasia and religious education outraged liberal Spaniards and tarnished an image of discretion that she had carefully tended for decades.

In the book’s most notorious comment, the queen is quoted as saying that she respects people’s different sexual orientations but does not understand why “they should feel proud to be gay.”

“That they get up on floats and parade in the streets? If all of us who are not gay were to parade in the streets, we’d halt the traffic in every city,” she says.

She adds that while gay people had a right to unions with one another, they should not call them marriages.

The controversy is an unfortunate coda to a series of incidents that have revealed cracks in the cocoon of respect that envelops the Spanish royal family. The king and queen are routinely voted the most respected public figures in the country.

But recent efforts by the palace to bring the increasingly rambunctious media to heel have fallen short, and the family has been struggling to adjust to a new level of scrutiny.

“I don’t think many people would be surprised to learn these were the queen’s views,” said Juan Díez-Nicolás, a professor of sociology whose polling organization, ASEP, follows public attitudes toward the monarchy, among other issues. “What surprises them is that she would say such things for publication.”

Born Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark in November 1938, the queen converted from Greek Orthodox to Catholic, and changed the spelling of her name to the Spanish version, when she married Juan Carlos, then the future king, in 1962.

Elegant, circumspect, and fluent in several languages, she became popular in part because of her role in helping steer Spain toward democracy after the death of the dictator Franco in 1975.

Long considered a paragon of royal reserve, the queen emerges from the book as the 70-year-old observant Catholic that she is, rather than the sweet, demure figure that the Spanish public apparently wants her to be, people who follow the monarchy said.

Her quoted comments on gay pride and marriage provoked indignation from many gay Spaniards, who won the right to marry in 2005, and prompted a swift apology from the royal household.

In a statement read to the press late last month, a spokesman for the royal family said the queen “deeply regrets that the inaccuracy of the comments attributed to her may have caused discomfort or offense.”

The statement said the queen had been quoted “inexactly” and suggested that Ms. Urbano had published comments intended to be private.

Ms. Urbano denied this and said galleys of the book had been reviewed by the queen’s office, which had approved them for publication.

Journalists who closely follow the royal family said that the king was incensed by the book and that those responsible for giving it the green light may yet be fired.

In a telephone interview, Ms. Urbano said that she had interviewed Queen Sofía several times, but that she had not used a tape recorder.

Antonio Poveda, president of the Spanish Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals, said his organization accepted the palace’s apology.

But he said that there was “definitely still some bad feeling among the gay community.”

In the book, the queen takes several plunges into other politically delicate areas, saying that she does not support euthanasia — an issue being hotly debated in Spain —and that she believes schools should include a divine creator in teaching the origins of mankind.

The book is also peppered with personal tidbits about world leaders and royal travels.

At one point, Queen Sofía congratulates herself on persuading Fidel Castro in 1992, when he was in Spain for the Olympic Games, to wear a suit and tie instead of his “drab” military garb.

The late King Hassan II of Morocco drove her “crazy” with his mania about food, she says, bringing a retinue of cooks and his own supplies when he visited Spain because “he didn’t trust us.”

Former President Jimmy Carter was a good enough sort but “behaved really badly toward the shah of Iran” when he refused him asylum, she says.

The publication of “The Queen Up Close” follows a rash of setbacks for members of the royal family and the Spanish aristocracy in dealing with news outlets, which no longer consider them untouchable.

A court ruled this month against the Duchess of Alba, who was seeking to have removed from newsstands copies of a satirical magazine whose cover portrayed her lying naked in a pile of money.

Also this month, Telma Ortiz Rocasolano, a sister of Queen Sofía’s daughter-in-law, Princess Letizia, lost a court battle to obtain restraining orders against dozens of media outlets, which she accuses of hounding her and her family. The court ruled that Ms. Ortiz was in the limelight by dint of her relationship with her sister and ordered her to pay around $57,000 in court costs.

King Juan Carlos made international headlines a year ago when he turned to Venezuela’s president, the outspoken Hugo Chávez, and said, “Why don’t you shut up?” Spanish commentators are now wondering whether the king might make a similar suggestion to his wife.

Matthew writes to me from time to time from the Berkshires...

Thanks and a tip of the beret!

Dieu Le Roy!
de Brantigny


Father G said...

Interesting post, although once Catholic Spain is in dire need of prayers...
I was happy to find your site via Athanasius...I'm to see that I'm not the only American monarchist around. I worked in France for a year as a priest(traditionalist) and got to know many monarchist(Legitimistes) as well as monarchy friendly trads.
God bless and keep up the good work...

Pour Dieu et Roi!
Vive Louis XX!

Fr. G. Stephen Gardner

de Brantigny........................ said...

Father Gardner, thanks for your kind comments. There are many Catholic monarchists in this country. More probably than even they know. My catharsis came one Eastertide when the words of the Gospel, related "Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above." Since Jesus was talking to a pagan it suddenly stuck me that the people do not give the authority over them to some one, God grants authority to leaders (parents teacher, judges, etc). The constitution basically grants the children authority to the parents to raise them.

Thanks again...