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The Spanish Royal Wedding: The Day After

The wedding had implications for all the West. It received great publicity in Latin America, which Spain is cultivating as the bridge to the European Union In turn, Latin America uses Spain as a counterweight to the United States, the target of general resentment. King Juan Carlos, a heroic and tactful defender of democracy, is admired in Latin America as a symbol of the best side of the Spanish tradition. And he speaks Spanish.

In Spain, life returned to normal. After the splendid weather during the wedding festivities, Barcelona was hit by torrential rains. Was this an omen? King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia returned to their sober, low key good works. They went to Granada to visit a school. They looked over the children's desks as though they were their parents. It was touching.

However, the troubles continued. In nearby Seville, the capital of Andalusia, the trial of a pedophile gang provoked riots, with some "freedom fighters" defending the accused. The Basque problem got headlines when the leaders of the Herri Batasuna party were tried in Madrid for promoting ETA violence. More riots.

The wedding was supposed to create class harmony. The bridegroom, Inaki Urdangarin, comes from the Basque village of Zumarraga. His modest parents were honored guests, and Basque folkdances (or rather jumping, in sharp contrast with the Catalan sardana) were danced by accompanying peasants. The proletarian basket-ball players led by the bridegroom were also much in evidence.

The more affluent yachting friends of the princess had to wait until the next day for their place in the sun. It is doubtful if the bride and her groom will return to their old jobs. As Duke and Duchess of Palma de Mallorca they can reside in the royal palace close to the yacht harbor. However, the joy in Palma de Mallorca was dashed by gangs of motor bikers and car drivers staging their usual wild and illegal races at night in the town's center. This time there was a serious crash, the number of victims not yet known. This violence in what was known as the island of calm was synmbolic of the new Spanish generation.

The monarchy is holding Spain together, but will it last, or is the civil war to be replayed? That was in the back of everyone's mind, and it focussed attention on 29-year old Crown Prince Felipe, who has shown no interest in marriage. He is a serious person devoted to civic tasks; speaking excellent English, he had just opened a Spanish exhibition in India.

There were 450 "royal" and aristocratic guests at the wedding, including many young women whose expensive dresses (many expensive products of Parisian haute couture) were in sharp contrast with the sober, traditional dress of the royal family. Silly TV women commentators gave prolix accounts of the dresses and speculated on the suitability of each young woman as a bride for Felipe.

Unfortunately, many "royals" are living in exile, while the few de facto royals are mostly protestant. The Queen was born Orthodox (Princess Cristina is de Borbon y Grecia), and her marriage to Juan Carlos was accompanied by ecclestiastical gymnastics. The wedding, conducted by a cardinal, was blessed by the Pope, but religion was a non-subject. Anticlericalism, mixed with indifference among the young, is just below the surface. Spain strives to be Europe's spokesman in Islamic North Africa and even in the Middle East, enjoying some success in Morocco. The Jews are tolerated. Spain is no longer monolithically Catholic. Pascal remarked that Cleopatra's nose played a decisive role in history. Who will be Spain's future queen? Spain seems to be free of paparazzi, and speculation is muted by the realization that Spain's fate may depend on that question.