The Dastardly Duke

The speed with which the Duke of Palma, Iñaki Urdangarin, has fallen to the level of being nationally despised is amazing but logical.

This man went from being a Spanish Olympic sportsman in the hand-ball team, to a member of the Spanish nobility after he married one of the king’s daughters, Cristina, yet the leap from being a respected member of the royal family to probably the most hated – yes, hated – of public figures was an even greater transformation in the nation’s eye.

The Isla de Palma, from where Urdangarin gets his title, are so incensed by his allegedly corrupt dealings that they have struck him, together with his wife, from street names in their honour. On one talent show recently, when a young group teenagers gave a display of tiquando, one of the judging panel invited to “break the Duke’s face” by smashing a photo of Urdangarin superimposed on a block of polystyrene. The audience cheered as the boy did it with relish.

Certainly some of the ire is generated by the damage done to the King himself by this whole affair – the King Don Juan Carlos I is an immensely popular figure. You can add the irreverence with which he treated his own title: El Duque de Palma, signing his name on an email El Duque Em… Palmao. (The Duke with a stiffy) had many seething with anger.

Another factor is that ordinary people have been struggling with this enduring economical crisis so that when corruption cases come up involving people who don’t even have to worry about ‘reaching the end of the month,’ indignation goes into overdrive.

But, the latest revelation that has come out of the police investigation takes the biscuit and plunges the reputation of Urdangarin even lower, if that is possible:

In 2006, the King, sensing that something was cooking, ordered the Duke to refrain from business activities and dedicate himself, instead to philanthropic efforts. So the Duke headed the Fundación Deporte, Cultura e Integración. The concept behind the foundation was to give handicapped and deprived children a better life through sport. The foundation, known by the abbreviation Fdcis, received 620,000 euros in donations, but do you know how much went to these children? Only 1.5%, the rest was allegedly channeled to offshore accounts…

No, the Duque de Palma is about as welcome as a bout of diarrhea in a bus queue at the moment.

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(News: Spain)