Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Todas las Parejas Tienen Sus Altibajos

Historic cover of HOLA magazine

What is probably the biggest story ever for the Spanish Royal family since the marriage of the Crown Prince Felipe to the lower-middle-class, divorced TV reporter Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano broke yesterday - the eldest Infanta (who should be the heir but for unknown reasons isn't) Elena, is separating from her husband. Ironically the story broke on Martes y Trece, ni te cases ni te embarques, which means, Tuesday the 13th, don't marry or embark on a trip because this is Spain's version of Friday the 13th. Fascinating, so I know how to code switch, one of the many things I can do in terms of switch-hitting but that is neither here nor there.

I am FASCINATED by Elena because I KNOW her. And you are saying, how does this trashy academic run with minor European royalty? This is my closest brush with royalty after my High School fan letter to Princess Stefanie of Monaco, which included a portrait of her that I drew after a photo in HOLA. Karen Kilimnick, I did it first!!!!!!

I met her when she was living in NY and her husband was here getting treatment for his stroke (which some said was caused by strenous workouts and others attributed to other reasons), at a swank NY hotel, though officially they were "staying with friends" presumably to avoid angering Spanish taxpayers who foot the bill for these personable but anachronistic personages. Her small Court in exile, including her Lady-in-Waiting, Rita, and others, wanted to entertain HRH by taking her to see ballet, exhibitions etc. and it so happens that I was part of one of those visits through chance. I learned a lot about Protocol, such as, you greet her first, even if your REALLY REALLY good friend approaches you as you walk in a room, you MUST ignore her in favor of the Infanta. The Infanta walks into a room, we follow, she leaves, we leave. She gets served first. And, my personal favorite, you NEVER ask her a question.

She is very down-to-earth, friendly, loves double entendres, worries about her figure, and is constantly taking photos with her little digital camera (see the bio below for her love of photography). I have a photo of us, which I was told was developed by taking it to a safe lab via DIPLOMATIC POUCH. Imagine, a photo of me, traveling to Spain and back via diplomatic valise for security reasons, to protect her privacy. Which as I discuss below, is all for nothing. Elena does not really like art. She asked to have Cubism explained to her and didn't like Picasso, she asked someone at another museum the difference between Monet and Manet. Which is a great question. She said she can't tell the difference, so she thinks, dancers, landscapes. One is also not supposed to correct them, so she couldn't tell Elena, no your royal highness, that would be Degas, Monet.

She has never been what one could call a "Glamour Girl" (a term that has been used to describe me, however), she dresses informally and unpretentiously when not undertaking official duties and is quite athletic -she loves to ride horses. But once she wed the aristocrat Don Jaime de Marichalar, a dandy if there ever was one, that changed. It was a bit like the Spanish version of "Funny Face" or "Now Voyager" from frumpy Habsburg-faced french braided horsey girl to international fashion icon. Don Jaime, who likes to wear CAPES, bracelets, almost always carries a fan, has been known to wear Paisley trousers, dons elaborate pashminas, velvet trousers, is best friends with ex-1970s Supermodel now fashion stylist Naty Abascal, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld and others in Paris, is always in the front row at Fashion shows. He allegedly co-owns the Manolo store in Madrid. Don Jaime is also quite nationalistic, according to some eyewitnesses his cell phone ringtone is the Spanish national anthem, he often dons the Spanish flag as an accessory somewhere (cord from which the cell hangs, flag dangling from the rear-view mirror of his car, etc.) Things just won't be the same without him.

This divorce story was a big deal because it is unprecedented and has been referred to by a royal commentator as an index to the "vulgarization" of the Spanish Monarchy. The reason is that the story was not released via an official royal press release, but rather confirmed by the Casa Real to a particular Barcelona-based journalist. So rather than treating everyone the same way, and issuing a press release, the power rests on a journalist who gets a "scoop" which they then have to confirm like any other person. I argue that this already started to happen when they began sending TEXT MESSAGES to announce things like engagements or the birth of the daughter of Felipe.

Then, to add insult to injury, members of the King's family begin to answer questions of journalists posted on the streets that basically stalk celebs on the streets in Spain, shoving mikes (known as alcachofas because the foam makes them look like an artichoke!) in their faces. (See the the HOLA story below.) And the scandal gets covered in shows like DONDE ESTAS CORAZON (DEC) which is my favorite and last about 5 hours consisting of a panel of gossip journalists discussing the latest news, idle speculation, innuendo, and outright slander, mixed in with interviews of people who are paid to come talk about their life or to accuse someone of something sleazy.



Primeras declaraciones de la Duquesa de Palma tras el anuncio de separación de los Duques de Lugo
El primer miembro de la Familia Real española en pronunciarse en torno al anuncio de la separación de los Duques de Lugo ha sido la infanta Cristina. La Duquesa de Palma llevaba esta mañana al colegio en Barcelona a sus tres hijos mayores y respondía a las preguntas de los periodistas: “Mi hermana se encuentra bien, está tranquila, gracias”, ha dicho la hermana menor de doña Elena, y añadió: “Ha sido de mutuo acuerdo, todas las parejas tienen sus altibajos”.

Doña Cristina, vestida con un traje de chaqueta y pantalón gris claro, una bufanda de cuadros, un bolso negro y el pelo recogido en una coleta, volvió a asegurar que la separación no tendrá consecuencias legales y añadió un “Esperemos” cuando una de las reporteras le dijo si confiaba en que el tiempo pueda arreglar la situación.

Se encontraba en Barcelona
La infanta Cristina se encontraba ayer en la ciudad condal cuando se produjo el anuncio de la separación de doña Elena y don Jaime de Marichalar. La Duquesa de Palma, que ha estado siempre muy unida a su hermana, ha sido uno de sus grandes apoyos en los últimos meses. Juntas viajaron a Croacia el pasado mes de agosto con motivo del aniversario de boda de doña Cristina y don Iñaki Urdangarín, y juntas pasaron las vacaciones en Mallorca con sus hijos.

Source: HOLA.COM (the BEST site ever, my bible)

This bio is the greatest,, because it discusses Elena's academic credentials, her love of horsemanship, ballet dancing, bullfights, and photography.

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