Whether or not Princess Cristina will have to publicly "walk the plank" to the courthouse and up the steps when she makes her appearance before Judge Castro, presumably amid hostile jeers, seems to be the question of day. It is what they are talking about non-stop in columns like this one; and in bars and taxis, and on TV talk shows.
In Spain we always end up talking about the sideshows and ignoring the fundamental issue. This time it is the princess on the courthouse steps. Once again, Spain is a nation divided. Some want to spare her the humiliation, while others take a personal interest in this woman walking the plank so that the crowd can scream abuse at her.
Personally, I have never understood the motivation of those who show up outside a courthouse to scream at people arriving to testify. I dislike this medieval spectacle, which harks back to a brutal, bloodthirsty populace celebrating the humiliation of others (preferably those fallen from some height of dignity, the higher the better). But this is only a distraction from the fundamental issue.
What we are looking at here is a problem of education, particularly so in the case of two women who have had every chance to receive the best education in the world. It appears that in the Royal Household, the young receive unequal treatment. The prince, who was destined to reign, seems to have received the most considerate care in terms of training and preparation. Not so his sisters, who, after all, also had to play a public role. At any rate, the education they received did not teach them to choose husbands who would keep their hands out of the cash register. Their idea of ethics seems limited to attending charity functions. They had to know that their position was conditioned by service to the country, on pain of public rejection. They were the ones in need of a Civic Education course.
While the male heir received special preparation, the education the infantas received did not teach them to choose husbands who keep their hands out of the till
For a while now, I have been ruminating on the following proposition: the only way this lady could have done the right thing by the country that pays her salary and the institution she represents, and show her innocence (not penal but ethical), was to separate from her husband as soon as his alleged embezzlement came to light, and renounce her title as princess. How can she give her continued support to this man, whose doings might discredit the institution to which she has always owed loyalty? A lawyer, adducing emotional reasons in such cases, is always pathetic. At her wedding they stopped the traffic in Barcelona so people could cheer the newlyweds as they went by. She might now have the decency to renounce her privileges, when it is public knowledge that the groom on her arm was a crook, making gravy out of his presumed love.
Someone might explain to the infanta that her problem, apart from her responsibility to the law, is the terrible example set by her conduct. Someone might hold it against her educators, whoever they were, that women, however high-born, are no longer brought up as little ladies whose charm was based on their ignorance of the gross affairs with which the rest of us dirty our hands every day, and then face the consequences of our acts. There is no longer a place for the woman who plays dumb, all the more so when they have had every opportunity for knowledge.
To remain together with a man who cheated the state — for which certain politicians are even now, perhaps, on the way to jail for putting money in his pocket — is to endorse his lack of decency. Is there no one in all that entourage of advisors, old professors and chamberlains with the courage to explain to her that this is the result, not of a conspiracy against her, but of her poor conduct? Have her parents told her this?
There is the root of the matter. It is never too late to correct someone who was educated in such an archaic manner that she cannot distinguish love from greed in a man's eyes.