Corona Británica

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at Westminster Abbey in London in March. Credit Tolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

What is required of the British monarchy?

The answer is obvious, though it is both painful and embarrassing to admit: It is a willingness to be consumed. Sometimes, as when I watched the 12-year-old Prince Harry walk behind the coffin of his mother, Princess Diana, I think monarchy is less a national enchantment, or hoax, than a national sickness. I have done a jigsaw puzzle of the queen’s face. I bought it at the gift shop at Sandringham, the queen’s country home. What is that but an act of control by the subject of the object?

It is hard for outsiders to know what British people want from the royal family.…  Seguir leyendo »

Azotados por los tabloides, aislados de la familia y agotados por la responsabilidad real, Enrique y Meghan han venido a Canadá para empezar una nueva vida. Buscan privacidad, seguridad y, quizás, una nueva identidad.

En estas grandes y vacías extensiones, probablemente lo encontrarán. La mayoría de los canadienses se sienten cómodos respetando el anonimato a quienes lo desean, comenzando por sí mismos, un pueblo exitoso pero modesto, del que se dice que esconde su propia luz.

Cuando la pareja real anunció sus planes de elegir Canadá, los canadienses reaccionaron en gran medida con su característica moderación. Se rumoraba desde hacía tiempo que la pareja prefería el lugar donde había vacacionado en Navidad (Isla de Vancouver) y donde Meghan vivió cuando era actriz (Toronto).…  Seguir leyendo »

When I was 16 years old, I joined Republic, the British organization which campaigns to abolish the monarchy. Americans, it has always seemed to me, got this one right in 1776. Why afford political power and taxpayer-funded luxury to a bunch of people on the basis of their bloodline? This is the digital age, not Game of Thrones.

So, when the first news reports began to surface on Wednesday that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be quitting the royal family, I wanted to cheer for them. In February of last year, I wrote a piece for CNN arguing that the two should quit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Credit...Samir Hussein/WireImage, via Getty Images

The British press has succeeded in its apparent project of hounding Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, out of Britain. The part it perhaps didn’t bargain for, however, is the loss of Prince Harry — a much loved Royal and a key part of the family’s global brand — along with her.

In a statement released this week, the couple said they want to “carve out a progressive new role” within the royal family and will “step back as ‘senior’ members, and work to become financially independent.”

The British press reacted with surprise at the “shock move abroad,” described variously as “seismic,” “selfish,” “rogue” and “an atrocious lapse of judgment.”…  Seguir leyendo »

In 2006, Prince Andrew invited Jeffrey Epstein to the 18th birthday party of his daughter Beatrice. Andrew didn’t know, he claims, that an arrest warrant had been issued for Epstein earlier that year for sexual assault of a minor — because Epstein had never mentioned it to him. (Even though the British royal family have numerous staff who vet guests.)

It hadn’t been reported in the British press. How was a Prince to know?

That is just one of the excuses Prince Andrew offered the British people on Saturday night. In an extraordinary BBC TV interview recorded on Thursday, the Queen of England’s second-born son attempted to defend his relationship with the convicted sex abuser.…  Seguir leyendo »

Queen Elizabeth II will give her annual Speech from the Throne on Monday. This speech is typically written by her ministers and represents their agenda for the coming year. In this time of constitutional crisis and Brexit anxiety, however, what would she say if she spoke her mind? I bet it would sound something like this:

“My Lords and members of the House of Commons. In normal times, I would tell you today what my minsters and my government intend to do for the coming year. In accord with our constitution, that speech would be written by them because we have wisely recognized that in a parliamentary democracy, the people’s voice, not the monarch’s, is the voice that matters.…  Seguir leyendo »

I. Los viajeros por Gran Bretaña han puesto tanto ingenio y entusiasmo en el reproche que los denuestos contra la cocina nacional alcanzan el grosor de un subgénero literario. Baste referir que entre los testimonios más misericordiosos que podemos encontrar está el de James de Coquet, para quien la culinaria británica sería buena de no estar, por lo habitual, «celosamente escondida». A nuestro Camba le honra, como a Paul Morand, haber echado un capote espiritual a unos británicos con la autoestima gastronómica siempre escocida: ahora nadie duda de que en Reino Unido se come, nacional o foráneo, de modo extraordinario. Los clichés culturales tienden a perpetuarse, sin embargo, aunque hoy en las islas se beba más café que té, haya más práctica católica que anglicana y convivan el tweed con los vaqueros y las onzas con los gramos.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is the curse of the Windsor men: they can’t resist marrying women who are more interesting than themselves. The news this week that Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, Prince Harry, is engaged to an American actress has not exactly rocked the UK. But those traditional balcony photos—men in military uniform, women in weird hats—are going to look very different in future.

Back in the 1980s, Harry’s father, Prince Charles, was aghast when his shy bride, Lady Diana Spencer, transformed herself into the first global superstar. Meghan Markle isn’t that, not yet at least, but it’s clear that she has star quality. Unlike his elder brother Prince William, who made a safe choice when he married Kate Middleton, Harry has gone full Hollywood.…  Seguir leyendo »

There were quiet rumblings in the press when they first started dating, a whiff of snobbery: Meghan Markle — half black, American, divorced, actress — was a curiosity. Perhaps it was a phase. There were comparisons to previous girlfriends, all of whom had been waifish blue-blooded blondes. There was a half-sister wheeled out, who declared Ms. Markle’s past behavior to be “not fitting for a royal family member” and pitched a tell-all book to publishers. All of it came with the implication that Ms. Markle was an unlikely candidate to be taken seriously. She would never join the House of Windsor.…  Seguir leyendo »

Entre las aportaciones que ha hecho el Reino Unido a la Europa moderna, cabe destacar la monarquía constitucional. En ningún país ha tenido tanto éxito la institución monárquica ni está tan arraigada. En los últimos años los británicos han sorprendido al mundo acabando con tradiciones como la caza del zorro. Han utilizado una fórmula muy poco británica como es el referéndum para preguntar a los ciudadanos por asuntos tan trascendentales como son la independencia de Escocia y la salida de la Unión Europea. Pero curiosamente, este nuevo afán de la clase política de preguntar a la ciudadanía por grandes asuntos del Estado no ha llegado a afectar a la Corona, ni siquiera tras la muerte de Lady Di.…  Seguir leyendo »

Princess Diana has been a staple of headlines for so long that articles and documentaries marking the 20th anniversary of her death may seem unremarkable. But the coverage is more than a stream of TV shows and newspaper and magazine special editions. It’s a meta reminder of the extremes that media coverage of Diana reached during her lifetime, and of the overexposure that continued after her death.

Diana was a 19-year-old nursery school teacher when she started dating Britain’s future king — and became a media sensation. Prince Charles bowed to pressure and proposed even though they had seen each other only about a dozen times.…  Seguir leyendo »

When she was alive, Diana, Princess of Wales, never held much interest for me. I didn’t watch her wedding or pay attention to what she wore to parties and ribbon-cutting ceremonies or care that she was unhappy in her marriage to Prince Charles.

When I worked at The Times in the early 1990s, we wrote about the scandals swirling around her gingerly, almost with distaste. Forced to pay attention to what seemed little more than celebrity gossip, we dressed up our accounts of what the British tabloids were reporting by expounding on the questions they raised about the role of the news media or the future of the monarchy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Twenty years ago, the death of Britain’s glittering, delicate, troubled global superstar, Princess Diana, shook the British monarchy and revealed a dangerous chasm between the palace and the people. In the wake of her death in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, the royal family was in danger of losing much loyalty and trust over its shabby treatment of “the people’s princess.” Today, though, two decades on, the monarchy is perhaps the most popular institution in British public life — a remarkable restoration that, more than anything, is the lasting legacy of Diana herself.

At first, the royal family was no more capable of dealing with Diana in death than it had been in life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Esta historia real que debo a mi difunta madre, emigrante española en el Reino Unido en la posguerra, trata sobre sobre la visita de estado que realizó el emperador de Etiopía Haile Selassie al Reino Unido en octubre de 1954. Yo era entonces un niño, y ver el cambio de guardia del Palacio de Buckingham se había convertido en una de mis primeras pasiones, algo que me duraría toda la vida. La precisión de los imponentes soldados británicos con sus abrigos rojos y la inspiradora música de su banda estimulaban mi imaginación, haciéndome sentir como uno de ellos, como si entrara en una fábula de Winnie the Pooh con Christopher Robin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hubiera sido traición, o sedición por lo menos, hace un par de siglos, pero nadie me inculpará hoy de intentar conjurar o provocar la muerte de la monarca británica si digo que, por desgracia, al cabo de 90 años, la vida de la reina Isabel II está llegando a su fin. «¡Que viva el rey para siempre!», reza textualmente el himno que se canta en las coronaciones en Londres desde 1727, basado en los versos bíblicos que aclamaban a los reyes de Israel. Pero tales sentimientos son realistas sólo en una de las aceptaciones de la palabra. La enfermedad que está sufriendo la reina -oficialmente señalada como «un catarro fuerte»- no tiene que ser la última.…  Seguir leyendo »

A heavy cold and a nation shivers. The cold is that attributed, this week, to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (her formal titles would take much of the rest of this column). The shivers are those of the political establishment.

Everything of moment in the United Kingdom depends, formally, on the 90-year-old Queen. She legitimizes all laws. She appoints all ministers. Parliamentarians must swear an oath of fealty to her. Ambassadors negotiate in her name, generals fight in it. She is the monarch in more than a dozen former imperial possessions, largely uncontroversially. When, in 1999, on the prompting of a Labour Prime Minister, the Australians tried to usurp her, the move failed, in spite of polls showing only minority support for her.…  Seguir leyendo »

Queen Elizabeth II attended a service of the Order of the British Empire in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, in 2012. Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph, via Associated Press.

From Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, England was an empire. No more.

Brexit has turned the twilight years of the reign of Elizabeth II into the final chapter in the history of Great Britain. What its partisans, celebrating with flag-waving in the street, tearfully called “Independence Day” will unravel the role that England has played since the 16th century as a great power, along with the City of London’s reign as a financial capital of the world.

After Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558, her merchant-venturers began an imperial quest. By Elizabeth II’s birth, Britain’s empire spanned nearly a quarter of the globe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Corría el año 1926 y la circular de la Corte daba a conocer el nacimiento, en la mañana del 21 de abril, de una hija de la duquesa de York, así como las actividades de los Reyes, Jorge V y Mary, figurando entre ellas que los monarcas habían recibido la visita en el castillo de Windsor de unas egregias damas que luego habían permanecido para almorzar con ellos: la Princesa Heredera de Suecia, la Princesa Alicia (esposa del Príncipe Andrés de Grecia) y la madre de ambas, la marquesa viuda de Milford Haven. Las tres pertenecían a la rama Battenberg, ya denominada Mountbatten, desde la britanización de todos los nombres germánicos de la Familia Real en 1917.…  Seguir leyendo »

La monarquía del bienestar

Se bebe más café que té, hay más fervor papista que anglicano, los sastres londinenses visten menos a los duques que a los jeques y -para espanto de victorianos- hasta el sistema métrico decimal ha hecho avances sustantivos. De la reina Victoria a la reina Isabel, no hay casi nada que no haya cambiado en Gran Bretaña: la emperatriz de la India ejercía su dominio sobre «un continente, cien penínsulas, dos mil ríos y diez mil islas»; la Cabeza de la Commonwealth, sobre una docena de caprichos geográficos y paraísos fiscales.

Entre una y otra soberana, la pacatería decimonónica se ha abandonado a las sombras de Grey e incluso Escocia ha pasado del romanticismo de las Highlands a plantear su independencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

El próximo 9 de septiembre, Su Majestad la Reina Isabel II del Reino Unido de la Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte, cumplirá un aniversario que añadirá una nueva marca a su ya extensa lista de ellas, solo que esta vez se trata de una, considerada de la máxima importancia y singularidad, desde el doble punto de vista dinástico e histórico, puesto que tal día se convertirá en la soberana que más días habrá permanecido empuñando el cetro, en el Trono de San Eduardo. Superará a su prestigiosísima tatarabuela, la Reina Victoria (1837-1901), quien a su vez, a fines del siglo XIX, escribió en su diario, en un día muy señalado para ella, que era el monarca que más tiempo había reinado en sus estados, al rebasar los años de mandato de su abuelo Jorge III (1760 -1820).…  Seguir leyendo »