Everybody is entitled to a holiday. A Royal or a president, a few weeks away from daily routine are necessary for everyone. Well paid critics in the media or in politics are less generous, they try to sew dispute.
This holiday season in the Northern hemisphere saw two cases of envious reporting.
US president Barack Obama’s wife Michelle and daughter Sasha were were on a four-day visit and stayed at the five-star Villa Padierna, rated as one of the world's top 30 hotels, with 40 friends. The party has reserved 60 rooms. The First Lady went to the city of Granada and enjoyed the spectacular Alhambra Palace. Mrs Obama and her daughter also paid a visit to Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at their summer palace on the island of Majorca, a short flight from Marbella.
From the website of the Casa de Su Majestad el Rey: Sus Majestades los Reyes y Su Alteza Real la Princesa de Asturias, acompañados de la primera dama de los Estados Unidos de America, Michelle Obama y su hija, Sasha
Mrs. Obama left no doubt that this was a private tour at her own expenses. Fair enough and the Kingdom of Spain is worth more than one visit. She will certainly be welcome whenever she wants to return to the Iberian Kingdom.
Some 250 Spanish officers and military personnel protected the Obamas during their stay. They include police divers, bomb disposal experts and dog handlers. About 70 US Secret Service agents are also in Marbella, some of them dressed undercover as tourists.
US Republicans have criticised Mrs. Obama for taking a holiday in the Kingdom of Spain instead of visiting the Gulf of Mexico. While the US security staff was paid by the US taxpayers, the cost of the 250 Spanish security personnel was shouldered by the Spaniards, and despite the country’s dire financial situation there was not criticism about the unknown bill.
Had this happened in Australia, would the republicans be up in arms against the expenditure for a foreign tourist? Certainly not, if it was a family member of a foreign republican head of state. What would they have made of the second example.
This July the Australian Royal Family had a cruise around the Western Highlands and islands of Scotland on the Hebridean Princess, a converted ferry. The Queen has paid £300,000 out of her own pocket, but that did not cover the security surrounding her, including the protective shadowing of her vessel by a Royal Navy frigate and divers.
In August 1979 Lord Mountbatten, Prince Philip’s uncle, was killed when the Irish Republican Army blew up his boat.(Sinn Féin vice-president Gerry Adams said of Lord Mountbatten's death: “The IRA gave clear reasons for the execution.”) The Royal Family is still on many terror groups’ death list. In civilised countries security measures are paid by the public for ex-prime ministers like Tony Blair as well as for authors like Sir Salman Rushdie. Only the Royal Family is always under criticism, because of the cost to protect their lives.
„ ... By an extraordinary coincidence that [amount of money] is precisely what the frigate would have cost if it had carried out the same exercises purely in theory, without the presence of the Queen to make them more focused and realistic. The only way to avoid costs would have been to put the ship in mothballs which, with our services currently so overstretched, would hardly be practical. Don’t forget the divers! snivel the critics. Right, so, Royal Navy divers should never venture into the water, on grounds of expense – is that the idea? Should our divers keep their flippers dry while any terrorist who can use a snorkel attaches limpet mines to the vessel carrying half of the royal family?Imagine, the Royal Family had decided to take a holiday in Australia, just like Michelle Obama wanted her time off in the Kingdom of Spain. The republicans would be running amok, crying foul and murder over the cost for a couple of security officers who would have to be paid anyway, since in analogy to Gerald Warner, they would have cost the same amount sitting at stand-by.
Or if al-Qaeda were to raid the ship and hold the royal family hostage, would that be less expensive?”
Republicans – in the US and in Australia or in the UK for that matter – just play political games, and very cheap and obvious ones as well.