The crown used in the Spanish Coronation this past June was the most underwhelming event of which your Blog Hostess could conceive. Forget every annointment, oath, chorus and benediction associated with the coronation of a British monarch. Spain’s coronation didn’t even have a crown. Well, it did, but it just lie there on a table like a drunken slug.
Existing purely as “symbols of the proclamation,” the crown of gilt-silver and red velvet, weighs in at 2.2 pounds and dates from the reign of Carlos III. The scepter was originally a 17th Century walking stick later revamped to scepter quality with filigree and blue-green enamel. It’s original purpose was for display when a king lie in state prior to the funeral. The last time it was exhibited was in 1980 when Alfonso XVIII’s remains were brought home to Spain for interment in the Escorial. Prior to that, the crown and scepter sat on a table in Congress when Juan Carlos became king in 1975. They looked just as boring then as they did in June, maybe they were a bit shinier.
using the good silverIn 1775, King Carlos III commissioned the oversized corona from local silversmith Fernando Velasco. It is “the only royal crown in the history of Spanish silversmithery.” Yeah, I don’t know what that means either. Velasco left his mark engraved on the crown, right next to the engraving of the bear and the strawberry tree, the seal of the Village and Court of Madrid. The crown and the scepter were first used together in proclamation of Isabel II as Queen of Spain in 1833. Since then the corona and the cetro have proclaimed each new Spanish sovereign. It feels weird using the word “coronation” now that we know there’s no crown-on-head action. Or are we losing it again? The scepter dates from the second half of the 17th Century [Marie Antoinette time!] and measures 78cm…whatever the hell that means. Way to go metric system. *hold please* Over 30 inches in length when assembled it’s topped with a bulb of rock crystal. The gilded silver shaft still shows the aquamarine enameled filigree in “vegetable” motifs. The bastón unscrews into 3 shorter pieces for easy storage and carry-on luggage. Carlos II declared the scepter to be the symbol of the king’s position as Capitan General de los Ejercitos. Biggest of the wigs in the Spanish military. It cannot be corroborated if Carlos II invented this custom or was merely the first to write it down.
with our own friggin’ eyesYour Blog Hostess was in Madrid on June 19, 2014 for reasons unrelated to the Coronation of Felipe VI, though we did see the “ceremony” in Congress and the parade up Gran Vía, around Plaza de España to the Palacio del Oriente. Unlike the throngs that sidewalk slept for days to watch Kate Middleton’s bridal carriage go by or mobbed entrance to St. Mary’s hospital, the plaza across from the mammoth palace was empty save four people the night before the Prince of Asturias became King of Spain. Imagine, a dead-center, fifty-yard-line view of the balcony from which the new King, Queen, Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofía would [hopefully] greet the citizen’s cries of “¡Viva el Rey!” vacant for the taking. Either way, neither Mr. Blog Hostess nor Yours Truly consider ourselves Royalists enough to sleep on the smooth but spine-misaligning marble. Do note: when Felipe breaks down on gives me–technically a Spaniard paperwork pending–an honorific, we’ll probably change our tune.
The parade route was also empty. The next morning the Mister and I watched the unceremonious formality in front of Congress, had a coffee downstairs then ambled up the stairs by the Senate to a comfortable front-row spot to see the parade pass. The sidewalk was filled but not packed by the time the small cavalcade turned the corner on to Calle Bailén into sight. The new king stood and waved, looking like some sort of king action figure by Hasbro.The new queen did wonders for her already abysmal public opinion by remaining seated with her head inclined toward a tell-tale two-hand grip. Su Majestad, la Doña Letizia, Queen of Spain, was texting. It was the most embarrassing,declassé way to behave and needless to say left la reina even lower in the thimbleful of esteem which I have for her. Life is so vexing clad in designer clothing, priceless gems, cavorting with the ass-kissingly wealthy and those much-needed vacations from tedious palaces on private islands. At least the middle-class bitch could stand up. Or put down the phone.