The King of Spain who is recovering in hospital after injuring his hip during a fall while elephant hunting in Botswana faced calls to abdicate amid growing controversy over the trip.
By Fiona Govan, Madrid, Daily Telegraph, April 16, 2012
The 74-year-old monarch has faced a barrage of criticism over his extravagant lifestyle at a time when Spaniards are suffering harsh austerity measures in a nation mired in economic crisis.
Left wing leaders called for greater transparency of Royal accounts and one even suggested it may be time for the once popular monarch to give up his throne.
“The head of state must choose between his obligations and the duty of service of his public responsibilities, or an abdication that would allow him to enjoy a different kind of life,” Tomas Gomez, the leader of the Madrid branch of the opposition socialist party, said on Sunday.
Spain’s minority United Left (IU) party called for a referendum on whether Spain should return to a republic citing the poor example the Monarch was setting during a time of hardship.
“It shows a complete lack of ethics and respect toward the people of Spain who are suffering a lot,” said Cayo Lara Moya, spokesman of the IU.
The party said it will present a list of questions to parliament calling for details of the financing of the trip to be made public. The budget for the Royal Household was reduced by only 2 per cent in 2012 – from 8.43 million euros last year – whereas government ministries faced cuts of 16 per cent across the board.
This year, for the first time, the Palace will publish a breakdown of its accounts in a step towards greater transparency.
So far the Royal Household has declined to give details on the trip except to say it was a “private matter”.
King Juan Carlos also faced calls to resign his position as patron of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) over his hunting of elephants.
A petition on the online forum Actuable had already attracted 40,000 signatures by Monday lunchtime calling for the King to renounce his presidency of the WWF in light of the recent hunting trip.
El Mundo, a newspaper normally supportive of the Monarchy summed up the feeling in Spain with an editorial, Sunday, entitled: “An irresponsible journey at an inopportune time.”
Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s Prime Minister, will meet with the monarch later this week when he is discharged from hospital, the government website said.