European Royalty – A Year in Review

2012 has been a mixed bag of a year for British as well as Continental European royalty.  In Spain, King Juan Carlos went on an expensive hunting trip which drew much backlash. Then in Britain, nude photos have emerged of our distinguished alumna Kate Middleton and her brother-in-law Prince Harry.  Finally, in Luxembourg a wonderful wedding was held for the heir-apparent to the throne.  However this wedding did not garner a fraction of the publicity that Will and Kate received on their happy day.  Overall though, it is fair to conclude that this year has been a much better one for British royals than for their Continental counterparts.

Image courtesy of Carfax2, © 2012, some rights reserved.

When tabloids published nude pictures of Prince Harry in Las Vegas in August as well as pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge in September, the media did not expect the reaction they received.  Ultimately there was backlash, not against the royal family, but against the prying and nosy tabloid publications. Tabloid journalists made the mistake of going after the two British royals who are arguably the most beloved by the British people.  Prince Harry is not just a Prince but also an active duty soldier who is currently serving in Afghanistan. Then in September a French tabloid decided to publish topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge.  The royal family then decided to sue the French publication called “Closer” for this egregious breach of privacy.  I cannot help but ask myself who is the moronic editor in “Closer” who thought it would be a good idea to publish photos of one of the most beloved royals of the 21st century?  Kate Middleton is not only royalty but she has always been down to earth and is greatly beloved by the British people because of this.  Her compassion and good will are always on display when on trips abroad representing the United Kingdom with her beau Prince William.  Yet again the British people were rightfully outraged on her behalf much like they were outraged on behalf of Prince Harry.

In Spain however, King Juan Carlos did not have the luxury of sympathy that Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge had.  As a matter of fact, any outrage in Spain was against the King rather than on his behalf. In April of this year, the King of Spain went on a hunting trip to Botswana.  On the trip he went elephant hunting which is expensive and ironic.  It is unfortunately ironic in that according to the BBC[1] the King has the honorary position of head of Spain’s World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) operations.  The costliness of the trip is scandalous considering that almost one in four Spaniards are out of work, and the unemployment rate for youth specifically is at 50%.  The King made an unprecedented public apology to the Spanish people in which he stated that he would never again engage in such behavior.  This is a deeply saddening fall from grace for the Spanish King. My own personal experiences in Madrid have unveiled a vast array of opinions regarding whether Spain should become a republic.  Yet it seemed to me that the consensus was that the King was a good man who was trying his best to promote investment and tourism in Spain. He was a man the country could be proud of, an ambassador who was a uniting figure even though the institution he represented (royalty) was not wanted by all Spaniards.  Now with this unfortunate news, many are calling for an end to the monarchy or that at a minimum that the king should abdicate.

Finally there is the Luxembourgish royal family.  In October of this year, the heir-apparent to the Grand Duchy, Guillaume, married a Belgian Countess.  This event was attended by royals from all across the world.  Luxembourgish people were greatly excited and happy for their Crown Prince.  Belgians were also very pleased about the news.  However they were not as excited as the Luxembourgish since the Countess is not the next in line to the Belgian throne.  As someone who has lived in both Luxembourg and Brussels, I am thrilled at this union between two countries I am fond of.  However, when comparing the amount of press this royal wedding received, it does not compare to the amount received by that of Kate and Wills of good old St Andrews.  This is unfortunate since Luxembourg is a beautiful country which more people should visit and get to know.

It has certainly been a mixed bag of a year for royals throughout Europe.  Britons were outraged on behalf of their royals for the amount of press they received, the Spanish were thankful to the press for letting them find out about the King’s actions, and the Luxembourgish did not have enough press.  Yet what is most unique is how the British royals were fiercely defended by their fellow Britons and rightfully so.  The tabloids can and do take things too far with good people.  It is not right that they seek to shame an active duty soldier like Harry or a global ambassador such as Kate. Let us hope that tabloid journalists have learned their lesson.