Moral and ethical principles “oblige everyone without exceptions” and “are above any consideration, even personal or family considerations,” the King said in his Christmas Eve speech, in a veiled allusion to the suspicions of corruption that weigh about his father, Juan Carlos I. There were only 87 words at the end of a 1,697 speech, the longest Christmas message of the seven that Felipe VI has delivered so far. Most of his speech was dedicated to transmitting encouragement to society in the face of the suffering caused by the pandemic and calling for a “great national effort” to overcome its consequences.
“Already in 2014, in my proclamation before the Cortes Generales, I was referring to the moral and ethical principles that citizens demand from our conduct,” said Felipe VI. “Some principles that oblige us all without exception; and that they are above any consideration of nature whatsoever, even personal or family considerations ”, he added.
The words he has used to refer to his father, without mentioning him, have been very measured. He has not said that “Justice is the same for everyone”, as Juan Carlos I himself did in 2011, alluding to his son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin, involved in the case Nóos. Doing so would have meant recognizing that the emeritus king has problems with justice and, for the moment, the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office has not filed a complaint for the three issues it is investigating.
The King has preferred to speak of “ethical principles” because, although he was criminally exonerated, Juan Carlos I has presented to the Treasury a regularization proposal of almost 700,000 euros; which means acknowledging that you committed tax fraud.
Since, on March 15, the Royal Household announced that Felipe VI was withdrawing his father’s official economic allowance and renouncing any inheritance that might correspond to his assets abroad, the King had not publicly referred to the situation of Juan Carlos I, installed in Abu Dhabi since he left Spain on August 3. That had sparked the expectation that he would do so in his Christmas speech.
Finally, the Monarch chose to vindicate the ethical principles that, he said, have guided him since his proclamation speech on June 19, 2014, when he stressed that the Crown “must observe integrity, honest and transparent conduct.” And he added that these principles are above any personal or family consideration. “This is how I have always understood it, in coherence with my convictions, with the way of understanding my responsibilities as Head of State and with the renewing spirit that inspires my reign from day one,” he added. By linking “integrity, honest and transparent conduct” with the “renewing spirit” of his reign, it can be deduced that this was not always the case.
Faced with the euphemistic language used to refer to his father’s situation, the King has used a direct and emotional tone when addressing the effects of the pandemic. He has alluded to the health measures that have prevented many families from reuniting this Christmas, to the “void impossible to fill” left by the deceased, those who continue to fight against the disease and its consequences, those who experience “the anguish of unemployment” the sadness at having lost his business. “2020 has been a very hard year,” he said, assuming that many fall into “discouragement or distrust.” Although “the situation is serious”, he has asked to face the future with determination: “Neither the virus nor the economic crisis will subdue us […] With effort, union and solidarity, Spain will move forward ”, he emphasized.
After ensuring that overcoming the crisis will come from the hand of science, with vaccines – the first will be administered in Spain on Sunday – and effective treatments, he stressed that “individual responsibility remains essential” and has asked “not to lower the guard”.
The King has warned of the risk that the economic crisis caused by covid-19 “leads to a social crisis”, pointed out that young people “cannot be the losers” and has urged “to protect the most vulnerable and fight against inequalities that the pandemic has created or exacerbated ”.
Given the dimension of the challenges, “enormous but not insurmountable”, he has called for “a great collective effort […], a national effort ”to overcome them. Spain, he said, “has felt more united than ever in its struggle and resistance” in the face of the pandemic; and, although there are “aspects that need to be improved and reinforced”, it has proven to be “a strong society with a solid State”, as exemplified by the Armed Forces, Security Forces, Civil Protection, Emergencies and other public services.
Europe and the Constitution
The King has praised the “firm commitment” of the EU “with sustainability and economic recovery”, through the reconstruction program, which for Spain will mean up to 170,000 million, which offers “an opportunity to move forward and progress.”
And it has reiterated its commitment to the Constitution, which, it has said, “we all have a duty to respect”, since “it is the foundation of our social and political coexistence; and it represents, in our history, a success of and for democracy and freedom ”.
Faced with political polarization, Felipe VI recalled that the advances in recent years “are the result of the reunion and the pact between the Spanish after a long period of confrontations and divisions.” “Democratic values, respect for plurality and differences and the ability to dialogue and reach agreements are principles that never lose their validity,” he said. “With effort, union and solidarity, Spain will move forward. With everyone and for everyone. And, as King, I will be with everyone and for everyone ”, he stressed, making clear his will to be King of all Spaniards and not just one part.
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