It's no longer very usual. Software like Photoshop has turned it into a folk exercise. Who would still ask someone to stick their face into the hole in the wooden panel where he once had his own photo taken under the same crown, many years ago, and then take over from him? Smile, your Majesty ...
The state crisis in Spain can't be resolved with a simple dynastic relay. The monarchy won't be more legitimate tomorrow just because today they've rejuvenated the protagonist of the royal geniality (1). We are not faced just with an institutional crisis or the result of a series of bad decisions or the incompetence of a small number of individuals. This is a crisis of the economic, social and political systems. It's a crisis of the project, of discourse, trust, credibility and transparency. It seems as if the State has become an expert at denying reality, at ignoring all the adversities, at telling and retelling the same old fairy tale that nobody wants to hear again.
The PP and the PSOE have recently decided, all by themselves, that the monarchy must go on, so that they themselves can continue to exist. What structural reforms can they possibly carry out in order to get the economy out of the recession, reduce unemployment figures, create well-paying stable jobs and increase the country's revenue to guarantee adequate social policies? Have you heard them explain why the gap between the rich and the poor keeps getting dramatically bigger and how they intend to reverse this process? We've not had any news either about how they plan to stop political corruption or how they will widen and improve the channels of democratic participation.
As the Spanish economy settles into global capitalism, the State has shown such devotion for the oligarchies it has favoured during the times of selective deregulation and privatisations that it has neglected the main job that the system entrusted it with: the organisation and oversight of the reproduction process. Private capital remunerates labour, the work done. But it entrusts the State with the tasks that the system needs but regards as being improductive, very onerous or unlikely to yield a profit: social security, health care, education ... The Spanish State has mismanaged the allocation of resources, has implemented policies based on its chronic obsessions, has neglected its social commitments and has blocked the democratic process. It has become a fossil stuck in the logic of the Transition, claiming to have achieved its modernisation goals when, actually, it's all turned out to be cheap makeup ("Spain has the best financial system in the world", "We are the eighth industrial power in the world", "If it's not in the Constitution, it doesn't exist" and so on).
When the Catalan independence process originally erupted, it took the State by surprise, was poorly analysed and met with scorn (the theory of the "storm soon to blow over"). But since 2012, the Spanish government has increased its policies of re-centralisation, of strangulation of the Catalan finances, of legal countermeasures on taxation, of failure to meet the investment targets they had agreed to, of an all-out offensive against Catalonia's schooling system ... And, above all, they have set two priorities: to disrupt the social cohesion of our country ("Catalonia will break up before Spain does") and to smear, at home and abroad, the peaceful, comprehensive, propositive, progressive and democratic nature of Catalonia's emancipation movement (remember Minister Margallo's instructions to Spain's embassies).
Just months before the massive rallies of 11 September and the date of democratic dignity of 9 November, the increase of Spanish police and intelligence resources deployed in Catalonia should be a concern. The actions aimed at helping the right to self-determination to gain momentum and social support must not ignore that the greatest threat to the process, in this final stage, is a hypothetical attempt by its opponents to undermine its well-deserved reputation of civic exemplarity. Once they feel that they've lost the political battle against the democratic independence movement and that the smear and scaremongering campaigns have proven useless, the State's dark innards might decide to resort to unsanctioned violence and try to pin it on the pro-independence camp. It is precisely for this reason that the best proof of legitimacy and radicality is to behave in a vigilantly scrupulous manner. On the other hand, a violent, imprudent or rude gesture could be the perfect excuse and ally of the reaction and of the State's dark innards. The dark innards are at work while the crown distracts. Let's stay focused.
(1) In the original Catalan text, the author uses the Spanish word “campechania” (“geniality” in English) ironically; this is a quality that has often been associated with King Juan Carlos, the father of King Felipe.