Juan Carlos, ex-King of Spain, behaved foolishly in relation to money and sex, and so his decision to leave Spain is sad, but justified. That seems to be the view of most moderate people outside Spain who are not ill-disposed to the monarchy. But it is it right? Certainly Juan Carlos’s foolishness was real, but his imposed exile (it is not really voluntary) to the Dominican Republic is not a punishment for a crime: there has never been any legal process. It is a partisan political act which is bad for the unity of Spain. Juan Carlos’s exile was forced on the current King, his son Felipe VI, by a weak prime minister, the Socialist Pedro Sanchez. Although in office for more than two years, Sanchez has not until now managed to get a new budget through the Cortes, in which he holds no overall majority. The exile is the price Sanchez pays for the support of the Catalan and Basque separatist parties, which are republican. They seek to break up Spain, and the best way of achieving that is to melt the glue of the monarchy. In Britain, we sometimes moan that our own royal family is too large, but it does provide a sort of bodyguard for the monarch. In Spain, the family has been so whittled down that the only royals with public roles are the present King and Queen and their two daughters, both of whom are children. Felipe is an impressive man, but embattled, because attacks on the family of a monarch, justified or not, are almost always ‘weaponised’ by people intent on destroying the monarchy itself. A republican Spain would very likely be a Spain that falls apart, an example not irrelevant to the United Kingdom.
Noel Quinn, the chief executive of HSBC, declines to say whether his bank will disown pro-democracy staff who fall foul of China’s draconian new security law for Hong Kong.