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Back to 2014_06_19_ICS_La corona, el cetro y la simbología de las insignias reales

Jaume Aurell, Institute for Culture and Society. Professor of History. University of Navarra

The crown, the scepter and the symbology of the royal insignia

Thu, 19 Jun 2014 09:00:00 +0000 Published in Te

The crown and the scepter, two of the main insignia of royalty, will have a merely protocol presence in the enthronement ceremony of Felipe VI that will take place on the 19th. Their presence will be merely passive, as they cannot even be grasped by the hand of the king or placed ceremoniously on his head. One can be more or less monarchist, more or less traditional or nostalgic, but losing the fascination for symbols, the ability to understand what is beyond the visible, is an impoverishment more real than that of material ruin.

These days, while discussion is being discussed about the convenience of a greater solemnity in the coronation ceremony of Felipe VI that will take place in a few days, the sentence that the Little Prince heard from the fox, and that he later repeated several times in an attempt to retain it in his report, has come to my mind several times: "The essential is invisible to the eyes". Dominated by the obsession for the explicit, we have lost the fascination for mystery and the understanding of symbols. Learning to read between the lines, venturing to understand the symbolic, is something that greatly enriches the capacity for imagination, creativity and a healthy critical sense of existence.

I once read from a historian the image that power is like the wind, we cannot see it, but we feel (and sometimes suffer) its force. Ceremonies make it visible, but soon disappear like melting snow, this is why we have to give them the attention they deserve, because they help us to make visible what is usually invisible. The inability to see beyond the apparent is perhaps what has contributed to a progressive impoverishment of rites in the essential moments of human life.

For this reason, the royal enthronement ceremony is one of those privileged moments in which the charm of the symbolic can be recovered. We have certainly surpassed the medieval world in many fields, but we are light years away from its capacity to understand the abstract, the mysterious, that which is so complex that it can only be understood through a symbol, an image, a gesture, a rite.

Around 1336, the chronicler Ramon Muntaner, a native of the beautiful village of Perelada, narrating the coronation of his king Alfonso IV of Aragon, explained the meaning of the objects with which the king was invested: "The crown is round because it has neither beginning nor end, just as God all powerful, who has neither beginning nor end. For this reason, it is put on the king's head, not on the waist nor on the feet, but on the head, where the understanding is. And the scepter signifies the justice which the king must have over all things, which for this reason the scepter is long and extended. And with the scepter he punishes so that the wicked dare not do evil, and the good are still better. And the knob signifies that, as the king has the knob in his hand, so he may rule and govern his people with truth, justice, and mercy."

The chronicler bequeathed us some beautiful words that teach us to see beyond the apparent and that are applicable not only to the king who will now enter the life of the Spaniards -and will have to earn their trust and appreciation day by day- but also to all those who have some responsibility in government; beautiful words that reflect the wisdom of knowing how to understand beyond what is seen at first glance. May they help us to understand that the noise caused by pretending to show everything prevents us from seeing the essence of things.