While Britons and Commonwealth residents celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th reign – an event that is also exciting elsewhere in the world – how are other monarchs perceived by the population? Answers in Spain, Morocco and Thailand.
In Spain, the monarchy promises transparency and modernity
In Spain, King Felipe VI recently launched one “transparency and modernization” of the Royal House. In late April, the monarch thus announced his legacy. No Spanish king had so far revealed his personal fortune. Via a press release, Felipe VI reported on an inheritance of 2.5 million euros, stating that he does not own any real estate or property abroad. Since his accession to the throne in June 2014 and following the economic scandals that tainted his father, King Emeritus Juan Carlos, Felipe VI has strived to promote the principles of transparency and integrity in order to strengthen citizens’ confidence in the crown. He also undertook to modernize it.
The Spanish government has also adopted a decree making it possible to reform the structure and function of the royal house. The monarchy’s accounts will now be audited every year, as will public institutions or political parties.
The Duke of Edinburgh today passed a legacy of service and dedication to the Corona and the United Kingdom.
Til ære for en las inolvidables ocasiones compartidas, los Reyes asistirán hoy a la misa de Acción de Gracias por su vida y trabajo. pic.twitter.com/FHCFWz5WXI
– Casa de SM el Rey (@CasaReal) March 29, 2022
The political class, like the Spaniards, is very divided on the issue of monarchy, so these transparency measures provoke conflicting reactions. The right-wing parties defending this political regime welcome the efforts of the Spanish monarch. For left-wing parties, mostly Republicans, the monarchy is an institution that is no longer in phase with the 21st century at all.
The Spaniards are equally divided, though King Felipe VI has a pretty good image because he knew how to distance himself from his father. According to a recent poll published last October, Spaniards are avoiding their monarchy more than ever. Only 36% support this institution, seven points less than in 2020, and 44% of Spaniards demand a referendum on the monarchy.
In Morocco, a distant and undisputed king
In Morocco, King Mohammed VI is seen as the guarantor of the country’s stability. Even during the Arab Spring in 2011, it never occurred to anyone to challenge the monarchy. The constitutional reform that followed consolidated the parliamentary monarchy and clarified the separation of powers. Since his accession to the Alaouite throne in 1999, King Mohammed VI’s popularity has never wavered. He is loved by Moroccans who see him as a guarantor of modernity but also of traditions.
However, Mohammed VI almost never goes in crowds and speaks only during official speeches on national holidays. But he is there, present throughout “postcard”. He is seen on social media taking a selfie while traveling abroad. Internet users film him in the streets of Rabat when he himself drives his car and stops to greet passers-by. And finally another type “postcard”, They are “royal wrath” which the press sometimes echoes when the sovereign raises and settles serious dysfunctions on the spot.
– King Mohammed VI (@SM_Mohammed_VI) April 7, 2022
The royal family has just grown. Morocco celebrates the birth of Prince Moulay Abdeslem Moulay Abdeslem, born on Wednesday 1 June. He is the son of the king’s brother, Prince Moulay Rachid. The press release from the royal house does not indicate the weight of the baby, but clarifies that the king himself baptized his nephew. Moulay Abdeslem thus takes 4th place in the row, far behind his cousin and king’s son, Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan, who has just celebrated his 19th birthday.
In Thailand, the king is a controversial figure
In Thailand, it is more than five years ago that a new king, with a sulfur-containing reputation, ascended the throne. A monarch who has made a lot of noise about him abroad. The least we can say is that Rama X does not enjoy the same aura that his father had in the country. The reformers of the student movement accuse him of being an almost absolute sovereign, who from his arrival on the throne endeavored to concentrate power in his hands with constitutional reforms, and who under his own name spent billions of euros on the crown budget. Above all, they blame him for continuing to allow the law of majesty to be used against political opponents, who give up to 15 years in prison for any criticism of the king or queen.
King Rama X’s royal coronation https://t.co/raWSttHaDP pic.twitter.com/l2QQDoEoEL
—PR Thai Government (@prdthailand) March 8, 2019
As for the conservative royalists, they can support the king because they believe that Thai identity is deeply connected to the monarchy, some are not very comfortable with his escapades, his many wives, his mistresses, whom he offers military ranks with a vengeance and an allegedly angry personality, though Rama X has generally become softer since coming to power.
Paradoxically, due to his bad reputation, the new king has opened a space for freedom of speech in Thailand. While the Thais in his father’s time, who embodied the ideal Buddhist king, the nation’s symbolic father, did not dare criticize the ruler in public, today it is common to hear jokes about him or even to see spectators refuse to stand during the royal song in cinemas, which would have been completely unthinkable a few years ago.