A Royal Pain

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Filed under: Legal Issues, Satire

Under Spanish law, anybody who insults the royal family can face up to two years in prison.

prince32.jpgSpain in uproar after royal sex cartoon banned
New Zealand Herald
July 22, 2007

Madrid – Spanish media poured scorn at a judge’s decision to pull a satirical magazine that published a cartoon of the heir to the throne having sex, saying it trampled freedom of expression in a first world democracy.

On Friday, Juan del Olmo ordered police to round up copies of El Jueves, whose front page carried a drawing of Crown Prince Felipe having sex with his wife and commenting on a government plan to give parents 2,500 euros ($NZ4423.99) for each child born.


“Just imagine if you end up pregnant,” Felipe says to his wife, Letizia, who is kneeling on the bed in front of him.

“This will be the closest thing to work I’ve ever done in my life.”

Under Spanish law, anybody who insults the royal family can face up to two years in prison.

Media tend to steer clear of reporting anything more than the royal family’s official engagements – a world apart from Britain where any royal pecadillo is pounced on by the press – but on Saturday they railed against the El Jueves decision.

“The El Jueves cartoon is crude and in bad taste but it’s hard to say it intended the sort of damage that would make it a crime,” top-selling El Pais wrote in an editorial.

Right-leaning El Mundo said the cartoon could offend people but insisted it was “within what is permissable in a society where freedom of expression is a fundamental value”.

Barcelona-based el Periodico went further and slammed the decision as anachronistic and a flashback to the years when Francisco Franco pulled papers for criticising his dictatorship.

Only right-wing ABC supported the ban – the first in about 20 years – saying the cartoon was symptomatic of “a climate in which civic and moral values are ever more relaxed and seen as relative”.

All the papers agreed that pulling the royal cartoon only served to draw attention to it and spread it around many more people than El Jueves’ usual 80,000 readers.

“The picture, which had been seen by thousands of people, was posted on numerous Web sites in Spain and abroad and will now have been seen by tens of millions of people,” El Mundo said. “Not even the Crown’s worst enemy could have had that effect.