The news concerning the accident that has befallen the king in Botswana has surprised the Spanish public. This is not only due to the nature of his injury, which will mean he is again kept out of action for a relatively long period of time, but also because of the persistent failure to officially communicate the head of state’s private journeys abroad to the government, parliament or the public at large. The king traveled to Botswana and returned for his operation in a private plane. Spain does not have an embassy in that African nation, meaning that his repatriation had to be organized by the ambassador to Namibia.
Clearly, even kings have private lives, and therefore have a right to the same legal protection of their privacy as any other citizen. But information should be given out on the journeys abroad made by Don Juan Carlos, as is the case in the majority of democratic countries, even though Spanish law has nothing to say on this matter. The critical opinion of the United Left federal coordinator with regard to the monarch’s trip to Africa may be shared or not, although the idea that the king does not have the right to a few days of rest and relaxation, however harsh the reality of Spain’s economic situation, does seem somewhat exotic.
Nevertheless, it is not the first time that the king has had an accident outside Spain while participating in a dangerous sport. And the fact that this incident should have taken place beyond Spanish frontiers without it being clear whether the country’s authorities had any prior knowledge of his travel plans is bad for both the prestige of the institution and for the normal functioning of the head of state’s professional activities.
It is therefore logical to expect that once the king has made a fast and full recovery, the policy of transparency initiated by the Royal Household with regard to its financial circumstances — in response to the Urdangarin corruption scandal — should be extended to this kind of activity, without the regrettable necessity of an accompanying medical report.