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The eyes of a stubborn woman

I see a lady who has somehow convicted herself even before the court reaches a decision

Elvira Lindo
Cristina de Borbón on day one of the trial on Monday.
Cristina de Borbón on day one of the trial on Monday.Cati Cladera (EFE)

What I see when I look at the infanta sitting on the dock is the face of a woman who does not understand what has happened to her. It is as though she still harbored the hope that someone will approach her seat and tell her that it’s all been a terrible mistake.

What her skin reveals is the loss of the sheen that used to light up her face back in the good old days, when she basked in the oft-repeated definition of Cristina de Borbón as a woman who juggled going to work every day and picking up her kids after school – a woman who performed her role as an infanta discreetly and naturally.

What I see in this woman’s eyes is the look of somebody who has grown accustomed to having a lost gaze, so as not to see the photographers waiting for her outside her door in Geneva, or outside the Palma courthouse; they are eyes that shy away from any visual contact that might give away any personal sign of weakness, fear or regret.

What I see, ultimately, is the expression of a stubborn woman who refuses to accept the evidence, and who is hiding behind some kind of misplaced sense of dignity that may either be the result of her upbringing or simply part of her character, I’m not sure which.

I don’t know whether she was taught to believe that someone who is born an ‘infanta’ can never have that title stripped away”

She is alone, all alone, because a person is doomed to being alone when she fails to notice what’s going on around her, even when the sound of it is deafening. And what’s going on is this: that in the same country that granted Cristina de Borbón birth privileges in exchange for a simple task – leading an exemplary life – the days of impunity are now over.

What I sense when I see her inscrutable face is that, this entire time, this woman now facing the dock has tried hard not to see, not to look, not to hear the indignant cries of a nation that learned with astonishment about the abusive business dealings conducted by her husband and by members of the country’s economic elites.

But what makes her stand out from the others is her status as a royal infanta – a role whose job description we are unsure of. And when someone occupies such a non-vital position, the least she can do is behave properly.

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I see the bitter expression of a lady who, in a way, has already convicted herself even before the court reaches a decision and before she goes down in history as a stigmatized figure.

A romantic version of events might hold that she is doing this for love, and that she is willing to put up with the humiliation in order to defend her husband’s innocence, but something about that story does not quite hold up.

After several years observing that immovable face, those unseeing eyes, that angry expression, I suspect that her uncomprehending attitude derives from the fact that she never really understood that her position in the world was not quite as fail-safe as she thought it was.

I don’t know whether she was taught to believe that someone who is born an infanta can never have that title stripped away, but it is high time that someone, perhaps her mother, explained to her that she is wrong about that.

English version by Susana Urra.

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