Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The King of Spain - thirty five years on

Today is the 35th anniversary of the King of Spain assuming the crown when he took the constitutional oath in front of the Cortes and the Council of the Realm, thus definitively re-establishing and restoring the Spanish monarchy in 1975.


The accession ceremony in 1975

Now for me that was indeed a time when to be (relatively) young was very Heaven. Here one was witnessing the restoration of a great and historic institution. I remember reading at the time John Evelyn's account of the arrival of King Charles II in London in 1660 to put events in historical context.

Back in 1975 clever people dismissed the King's chances of survival - he was going to be 'Juan Carlos the Brief'...

Thirty five yeas on he and his people can look back over the process whereby the restored monarchy has enabled the various and varied groups which comprise Spanish society to reconcile differences and find means of living together as a society. In a time of constitutional, political and social change the Crown has provided a symbolic and actual centre of unity, and been an enabling force, as in 1981 when the King withstood the attempted coup.

As I posted recently Portugal as a neighbour and as a country with a not dissimilar history is one that I think could profit from the Spanish experience, as could those countries which became free after 1989 - indeed Bulgaria did have the novel experiment of the legitimate King as Prime minister of a republic. The achievement of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, and of their family is considerable, and worthy of emulation. Long may they reign!

King Juan Carlos of Spain undergoes surgery

The King of Spain

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