Spain: A Shrewd King

Juan Carlos proves himself

It was King Juan Carlos' first official tour of Spain's volatile, autonomy-minded Basque country, and the reception was often only lukewarm, sometimes hostile. Security forces outnumbered the crowds nearly everywhere, and at most of their stops—from Vitoria to San Sebastian —the King and his wife, Queen Sofia, also had to endure the presence of angry Basque demonstrators, who were raising clenched-fist salutes and chanting anthems and slogans in their ancient language.

A turning point came at Guernica, the Basques' spiritual center. Thirty members of the militant Herri Batasuna Party loudly cut off the King's address with an...

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