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Post What Does the Monarchy Do for Spain?
Created by John Eipper on 09/09/17 12:02 PM

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What Does the Monarchy Do for Spain? (Carmen Negrin, France, 09/09/17 12:02 pm)

Answering Anthony Candil's post of 8 September on the Spanish monarchy, I personally don't think that the monarchy has provided anything to Spaniards, except, perhaps, at the very beginning, a consensus for a transition towards democracy after 40 years of dictatorial brainwashing and, mainly, a lot of sales for Hola.

As for Azaña, although he was a brilliant and wonderful person, he was not the right person, in the right place, at the right time. He was the perfect peacetime President.  I would say he was the exact opposite of Churchill during WWII.

If I recall well, he started "betraying" (perhaps the word is not adequate and is too strong since he did what he thought was the best for the Spanish people) the Republic, as well as the Government, around the time of the departure of the International Brigades (September-October 1938). Ángel Viñas and Paul Preston certainly know much more about this episode than I do. He did another "betrayal" just after crossing the border: he was about to resign and go to his country house in France; my grandfather who had accompanied him across the border, told him--after reminding him that the soldiers were still fighting in Spain--that he had to stay at the Embassy in Paris.  He ended up doing this, but not for long--since he resigned from his position, days later, at the end of February, leading to the almost immediate recognition of Franco by the UK and France, even though the war was ongoing until 1st April. My grandfather, just before that tragic decision, went back to Spain and only returned to France by mid March, when he asked the few representatives left in France to formalize the government-in-exile, mainly to attend the needs, as a governing body, of the 530,000 or so refugees. It took a while before they even accepted to meet, but it was eventually accepted.

The question of the Monarchy is not properly posed. Communists did recognize the Monarchy a few---quite a few--years later in exchange for their own recognition by the Monarchy. Anarchists are a totally different story, starting by which Anarchists?

Negotiations can lead to anything, depending on what you want, which are your priorities, especially how badly you want them, and also depending on ethics.

True Royalists left Spain during the Republic.  Many didn't return until after Franco's death.

I don't think, in fact I am sure, that had the war ended up with a king, my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister, even if, as was the case with Alfonso XIII, he personally knew him: Alfonso XIII had charged him in 1927 with the construction of the Ciudad Universitaria, the Decreto Real will be exposed in October in the library of the University of Valencia, next to a selection of my grandfather's books. Besides the opening of the Physiology Laboratory in the Residencia de Estudiantes, that task was probably his most enjoyable one while being his least recognized achievement.

My grandfather was given a task, which he accepted, and that task was to defend the Republic, which he did until the end. The Republic meant simply people and people's will. There was no possible bargaining.

Anthony and I agree absolutely that the Monarchy brought itself down. I didn't know that the nationalities of the Royals had been taken away by the Republic, but I did know that the Republic offered to take care of the King's sister who was ill--the King refused and also that the Republic continued paying the retirement pensions of the Monarchy's ministers, something of course, Franco never did but the following Monarchy did, although late, with the retired soldiers (I am not sure about the government members). And of course, yes, the king was part of the coup, probably more distant than he would have wanted to be, but a real part.

I am also convinced like Anthony that his grandson was also part of the February 1981 coup. Many people, including Carrillo had told me the opposite, but how can one explain otherwise that all those responsible were set free relatively shortly after?  One of those who went to prison, I think it was Tejero, used to be seen shopping with his wife in the streets of the town while he was said to be in prison.

No memoirs in sight! I admire those who are able to write a full book, I have "corrected" a few, but it is not the same to write some notes or short texts as you all know.  Emotionally it was stressful enough to slightly participate in the film on my grandfather!

JE comments:  Carmen, you can write your memoirs in small installments--for WAIS!  Items such as these fascinating tidbits about Juan Negrín need to be preserved.


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  • King Juan Carlos and the Coup of 1981 (Paul Preston, UK 09/11/17 5:18 AM)

    I totally agree with Carmen Negrín (September 9th) that her grandfather would have loyally served as prime minister in the unlikely event of a negotiated settlement of the Spanish Civil War with a restoration of the monarchy, and the even more unlikely event of his being invited.



    I too was surprised by Anthony Candil's statement that the Republic deprived the royal family of Spanish nationality. I do not think that that is true. In an arguably ill-advised process carried out by the so-called "comisión de responsabilidades," the new Republican government sought to try those considered guilty of the abuses committed from 1923-1930 by the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. Having approved and instigated the dictatorship, Alfonso XIII was accused of high treason. His properties were seized but, as far as I know, he was not deprived of his nationality. In any case, all of the sentences laid down in the process were nullified by an amnesty in early 1935.



    As for the Juan Carlos's alleged participation in the coup of 1981, I would like Anthony to provide some proof. I continue to ask why Juan Carlos would take such an extraordinary risk in the hope of securing something that he had already been offered legally?


    JE comments:  Juan Carlos was born in Rome in 1938.  When did he receive Spanish citizenship?  Was this something Franco conferred on him when he named the young King his successor?


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    • Citizenship of Alfonso XIII and Juan de Borbon (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/14/17 4:40 AM)
      First of all, I apologize for not having answered Paul Preston and Carmen Negrín earlier. I'm traveling through the US Northwest and sometimes I am not even looking at my iPhone, besides not having Internet access at all times. I'm in Montana right now. I wanted always to pay respects to Custer and to all who died at the Little Big Horn, Whites and Reds alike.

      I'll be back home sometime next week and then I'll answer Paul in kind about February 23, 1981.


      Nevertheless, two things real quick:


      I don't think that Carmen Negrín meant for a minute that her grandfather would have accepted to serve as Prime Minister under King Alfonso XIII!! Just the opposite, isn't it? This is what I understood, anyway, from her post. It couldn't be otherwise.


      On the issue of the citizenship of the Spanish royals, I have always understood that the Second Republic had deprived them all of all their rights including citizenship, but I could be wrong. I have read this in many books and essays published in Spain.


      In any case, some facts:


      On November 19, 1931, if I'm not wrong, the Republic approved a law declaring ex-king Alfonso XIII guilty of high treason on several grounds: the disaster at Annual, in Morocco, the coup d'etat of General Primo de Rivera of which he was apparently a principal instigator. It is true that he was judged and sentenced "in absentia," however the Count of Romanones acted in his defense. The sentence established that the ex-king and all his relatives were deprived of all titles, honors, prerogatives and even properties, but above all of their "Paz jurídica" (legal peace?). I don't understand what that could even mean in plain English, but I was told that in Spain, according to the law, it means all rights including citizenship and so forth.


      I'm sure that Paul Preston could give us all the right answer.


      In any case, General Franco, on December 15, 1938, from his provisional government in Burgos, approved another law invalidating the Republic's law from 1931 and returning all rights to the Spanish royals. Another reason for Juan Carlos to be thankful to Franco, I guess.


      On the issue of Juan Carlos's citizenship, John E is right to a point. If I am not wrong, Felipe V approved a law in 1713 ("Auto acordado de La Corona") regulating the access to the Crown, and establishing that being born abroad, outside Spanish territory, was an impediment to becoming the king of Spain, but that law was also rejected in 1789, to make it possible for Carlos IV to become king (the so-called "Pragmática Sanción").


      By the way, did Infante Juan de Borbón, Juan Carlos's father, have British citizenship? His mother, Queen Victoria Eugenia, was a British royal, and he served in the Royal Navy, I guess he had the right at least.


      JE comments:  Carmen Negrín also wrote to correct my editing mistake.  She doubts her grandfather would have served Alfonso XIII as Prime Minister.  (Carmen's post is next.)


      If you're still in Montana, Anthony, send us photos!  The high-strung, impetuous Custer is not one of my favorite military commanders, but he was a Michigan boy (from Monroe, near Adrian).  I have never been to Montana or the Dakotas.  Time to revisit the Bucket List.


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    • Would Juan Negrin Have Served a Monarchy? On Statelessness (Carmen Negrin, France 09/14/17 5:04 AM)
      My thanks to Paul Preston for his comments supporting my 9 September note.

      I do have to point out, in the name of honesty, that one of my sentences wasn't clear. It said: "I don't think, in fact I am sure, that had the war ended up with a king, my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister."


      It started with "I don't think" (unfinished sentence) but continued with "I am sure ... my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister."


      However, Paul and I don't fundamentally disagree, since it is true that my grandfather could have loyally served under the king, had he considered it absolutely indispensable for the good of Spain, for a dignified end of the war and mainly if it agreed with the will of the majority, after an election. He did request elections in his "trece puntos," and under all those conditions he might have accepted continuing in his position. As Paul also pointed out: too many "if"s! But, yes, Juan Negrín was a man of duty, not of personal ambition.


      About the Monarchs losing their nationality, I would like to know where it comes from.


      I have often noticed that the reproaches made by the Francoists to the Republicans were in fact often carried out by Franco himself. For instance, Franco did take away the Spanish nationality of all the exiles. My grandfather had a Nansen Passport and whenever he had to fill in migration forms he would write under "Nationality": "Spaniard," the customs officer never failed to cross it out and change it to "Stateless." It was so systematic that it had become a tragic game, a game for my brother and me who would wait to see if the officer had noticed and tragic for my grandfather who was refused his identity.


      Among so many accusations, one, among the most ridiculous ones, was my grandfather's supposedly excessive eating, but it is astonishing to read Franco's April 1st 1939 menu: the "sober man" had an 18th-century-style menu with entrées, fish, meat, wines, cheeses, desserts, etc. while the rest of Spain was starving. In the same order of ideas, he criticized the Republican government for having kept food for itself while in fact it had been stored (mainly beans) in Barcelona for the population for the exact six months it took for the Second World War to start. It was simple planning, even though they were considered reckless.


      More seriously, there are the killings attributed to the "Reds," when in fact there were 20 Paracuellos if not more, carried out by the rebels. Recently, I went to Paterna. In what seemed to be the tomb of one person, there were around 50 bodies thrown in. Day after day the shootings would go on, one day 20, the next day 36, and so on for months. Each day they would open up a new grave. Who talks about Paterna or the Málaga road? And more symbolically of course, is the fact that the rebels called themselves the "Nationals" and called the legal and official government the "rebels." Hitler used the same method with the Jews, accusing them of stealing the nation while he was stealing from them (and taking their lives)!


      They were already playing around with the concept of "fake news"!


      JE comments:  Isn't fake news as old as news itself?  My apologies to Carmen Negrín for the editing error.  I had interpreted "I don't think...he would have refused" as a classic double negative.  Two nos in English equals a yes, although we all know that no means no, and two nos doubly so.  ("I ain't got nobody...")


      Legal statelessness is a WAISworthy topic we've never discussed.  How is the concept being applied to the present refugee crises (Syria et al.)?  And what about the Ukrainians of Crimea?

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