THE whole of the foreign community in the Balearics will want to send their warmest wishes to the heir to the throne, Prince Felipe, and his bride Letizia Ortiz, on the occasion of their marriage today. British residents and visitors will especially want to convey their congratulations to the couple because, whatever pinprick political irritations there may occasionally be between Britain and Spain, it is a fact that the two countries share many things in common, not least Royal families which have won the affection of the great majority of their citizens.

The status of the Spanish Royal family is of particular interest to Britain. It has found a unique role midway between the highly democratised bicycling monarchs of the Scandinavian countries and the still rather-too-formal style of Britain's House of Windsor. There is no question about the authority that resides in the person of the King of Spain, nor in the ability of Juan Carlos, the present monarch, to exercise it - as he showed in 1981 when he almost certainly saved the newly-democratic nation by his calm response to a take-over of Parliament by dissident Civil Guards. At the same time, he and Queen Sofia and their family have adopted an informal style which was seen to great advantage during their moving encounters with the families of the victims of the March 11 atrocity in Madrid. Prince Felipe has been brought up in this flexible tradition of authority and informality; he has inherited the qualities necessary to the maintenance of authority and he will be sustained in an informal approach by his bride who comes from the modern media world.

Congratulations and best wishes to the Principes de Asturia!


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