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Ceremony in Honor of the Queen Mother
Rather surprisingly, the ceremony at the Escorial marking the delivery there of the body of the mother of King Juan Carlos was followed on January 12 by another, much more grandiose one in the same somber Monastery Palace. Presumably it was to allow time for the 1,000 guests to make their travel plans. They included leading figures from around the world, including Prince Charles of Great Britain.
It was an impressive affair, so traditional that foreign-born Queen Sofia wore a black mantilla. The ceremony was conducted by a cardinal and four leading bishops, and the choir sang Golden Age Spanish music. The event was staged to stress the Catholic, monarchical tradition of Spain. If there were any opposition party leaders there, they were not mentioned. Conspicuous in the congregation were Arab delegates dressed in their traditional robes. Was this a first for the Escorial?
The government continued quietly rehabilitating the memory of the kings of Spain, including Felipe II, the Devil of the South, who built the Escorial and is buried there. The event was clearly planned by King Juan Carlos, who probably also was avenging the memory of his parents, who had been snubbed by Franco when he passed them over and chose Juan Carlos for the restored monarchy.
Ronald Hilton - 1/13/00