Spanish King rebrands for the recession

Juan Carlos to be 'more open' in effort to boost image and heal political rift

Spain's King Juan Carlos is admired for many things here, such as his historic role in the transition to democracy, or his diplomatic clout in the US and Latin America. But openness to the public? That's not a trait often associated with the Spanish monarchy.

The King's secrecy, in fact, is seen as the key to his past success as a behind-the-scenes mediator between the country's political factions. But a new era is apparently dawning at the Zarzuela, the country estate the King chose as his royal residence instead of Madrid's luxurious royal palace.

His public relations team has announced that, for the first time since Juan Carlos was installed on the throne in 1975, it will publish his agenda of private meetings and selected morsels from his discussions – that is, as long as his conversational partners agree to the public airing.

The Zarzuela hopes that this sudden willingness to blather will boost the King's public image. A similar information blitz for the dashing Crown Prince will follow, according to Ramón Iribarren, chief spokesman for the King's office. And the royal's business will soon hit social networks.

"The philosophy is to make the King's activities, his priorities and concerns, known to the public," Mr Iribarren told The Independent. "I don't think the average citizen knows what the King's work consists of. Only the least transcendental aspects come out, mostly in the tabloids, rather than his role as head of state."

Mr Iribarren is referring to the unflattering recent developments, such as the divorce of the King's eldest daughter, the Infanta Elena, or the King's outburst to Hugo Chávez: "Why don't you just shut up?" Queen Sofia also caused a public-relations headache for the crown when her uncharacteristically candid comments about gay rights and gay marriage appeared in a biography, The Queen Up Close. The family is most often photographed while sailing in Majorca, or attending formal galas. Until now, weightier matters merely leaked to the press.

Mr Iribarren denied the new policy is a reaction to the recent economic crisis. But it is widely seen as a sign that the King is trying to take a greater role in healing the deep political rift between the two major political parties on how to trim Spain's ballooning deficit and ease market jitters.

"In times of crisis, people tend to look to the King for moral guidance and leadership," said Charles Powell, a history professor at San Pablo-CEU University in Madrid and author of the biography, Juan Carlos of Spain: Self-Made Monarch. "And when there's acute polarisation between the political parties, the King's role becomes more important."

The King has never needed a publicity blitz in the past. The vast majority of Spaniards – as much as 75 per cent – rank the Spanish monarchy above any other public institution in the country, according to Juan Díez Nicolás, a sociologist whose research firm, ASEP/JDS, conducts yearly opinion polls on the Spanish monarchy.

King Juan Carlos himself always ranks among the top 10 most popular figures in the country. Few Spaniards forget the fact that he was appointed by a dictator, of course. But he is widely credited with thwarting the 1981 military coup and helping to mediate between the country's fledgling institutions and political factions in the transition to democracy.

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...


Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?