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King bars royals from taking presents

Source: El Pais - Sat 6th Dec 2014
King bars royals from taking presents

King Felipe VI has forbidden members of the Spanish royal family from accepting favors or expensive gifts "that could jeopardize the dignity of their institutional tasks."

Royals may not accept favors such as free flights or loans at low or zero interest; they are also banned from accepting presents with a high economic value or gifts that are being given for commercial or advertising purposes.

The move is part of a campaign by the recently proclaimed monarch to clean up the royal household's image following months of low popularity ratings.

It also seeks to distance itself from the numerous corruption cases affecting Spanish politics, often involving bribes for favors - Gürtel and Púnica being two leading examples.

When he took over from his father Juan Carlos in June, Felipe VI said in his inaugural speech that "the Crown must constantly earn citizens' appreciation, respect and trust. Today, more than ever, citizens are rightly demanding that public officials lead by example."

One of his first moves was to bar members of the royal family from working in the private sector. This was interpreted as a way to prevent more cases like the one that ensnared his sister, Cristina de Borbón, whose husband Iñaki Urdangarin faces criminal charges in connection with his private business dealings.

The new king also announced that the royal family's accounts will undergo external audits to increase transparency.

Under this new gift ban, Felipe's closest relatives will no longer be able to accept the kind of presents that his father did when a group of businessmen presented Juan Carlos with a yacht worth €18 million. The previous monarch also received two Ferraris from the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. One of them was recently handed over to the National Heritage Foundation, and the second one "will be soon," according to royal palace sources.

The new rule does not prevent the royals from accepting "courtesy gifts," and a palace spokesman refused to say what the price limit for these other presents might be, saying it would be left instead to "common sense."

Since the proclamation of Felipe VI, the royal family has been reduced to his parents Juan Carlos and Sofía, his wife Letizia and his daughters Leonor and Sofía. Felipe's sisters, Elena and Cristina, are no longer considered part of the royal family per se.

Recommended Reading :

* Spanish Court upholds charges of tax fraud against Princess Cristina

* Spain to offer legal immunity to Royal Family

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