"I’m very sorry, I made a mistake. It won’t happen again," this is how Spanish King Juan Carlos apologized to his people on television, after he was forced to give explanations about his luxurious hunting trip in Botswana.
While the government has imposed severe austerity measures and budget cuts that make daily life increasingly difficult for most Spanish people, with great astonishment Spaniards discovered that their king was accidently hurt while vacationing and hunting elephants. At a time of economic stringency and public spending cuts, it would make sense for heads of states to set some good examples, not only with statements but also with concrete action.
The news only emerged because Carlos, aged 74, rushed home to undergo emergency surgery after he broke his hip. The qualified “private trip” wouldn’t have sparked so much outrage if Carlos hadn’t called on Spanish leaders, in his annual Christmas speech last December, to be exemplary and modest in their behavior during the difficult times that the country if facing.
Carlos demonstrated that his words were intended for everyone but himself. His hunting hobby costs up to 30,000 euros, which is more than twice the average salary in the country. Currently, five million Spaniards are unemployed. This does not only demonstrate certain recklessness but also reflects a degree of indifference and to people’s daily problems.
Moreover, just last month, he shared his concerns about youth unemployment, which amounts to 50% of total unemployment, saying that at times he could not sleep when thinking about it. However, his actions honestly raise questions about the sincerity of such remarks. A costly safari does not really match the compassion spirit that he wanted to illustrate. It would have been appropriate for him to show some sobriety, especially since the public is always watching.
It is not so much on how some leaders act in their private lives but the fact they play the hypocrites and feel obligated to make people believe that they care or lead a life like any other citizen.
The Spanish King is also the honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund in Spain, an international environmental organization that also militates about elephants killing. And it’s awkward to learn that hunting elephants is one of the King’s favorite pastimes, whereas he is supposed to advocate animal’s protection.
According to the WWW’s conservation director in Spain, Enrique Segovia, the organization has received many complaints from its members. They demand that the King quits his position because his hunting activities do not go together with the very foundations of the organization and it may also harm its image.
Spain is facing a deep debt crisis, the cost of life has significantly risen and it would be normal if the King also gave an example and made effort like other citizens.