Queen Sofia celebrated her 70th birthday on Sunday, November 2nd, in a swirl of controversy as a result of comments she made in a book published last week – La Reina muy de cerca (The Queen very close up) by Pilar Urbano, the result of some 15 hours of conversation between the two women. What seems to have upset people most were her comments on same-sex marriage. She said she could understand, accept and respect that some people have other sexual tendencies and that they have every right to live together, dress themselves in bridal gowns and get married but she didn’t believe such unions should be called marriage. There are other possible names, she said, such as social contract or contract of union, but not marriage. She also confessed she couldn’t understand why gay people are always out on the street, proudly parading their gayness. These comments caused such an uproar in politically-correct quarters that the Royal household’s spin doctors issued a statement the day after the book appeared, to the effect that Sra Urbano had misquoted the Queen. The PC people continue to ignore the fact that many people oppose gay marriage for religious and other reasons, while others disapprove of homosexuality altogether. And there are probably a lot of people like myself who find those gay parades lacking in taste to say the least. I know that none of my gay friends would be seen dead in them. As for gay marriage, I reluctantly agreed to help two of my closest – gay – friends get married here in Co�n. They had been told in Madrid that it would be quicker to get married outside the capital, where there was a long waiting list. I only agreed because one of the two is American and needed to marry his Italian friend to be able to stay in the country without any hassle. My reluctance was caused by the fact – as I pointed out to them – that I’d spent my life avoiding marriage and felt that helping them tie the knot was a just a little bit hypocritical on my part. In any event, they married in Aranjuez without any help from me. Being a practising Christian, the Queen came out in favour of teaching religion in school, which the current Socialist government is making as difficult as possible, but is against abortion and euthanasia. On having photos of herself and the King burned by young Catalan nationalists, she said it wasn’t very nice but “they were only burning bits of paper”. However, she said the incidents would be repeated because “once somebody does it, others will follow”. And she was right. As for attacks on the monarchy, she said the Royals could only continue “smiling, and carrying on as usual”. She said that not being able to reply was frustrating, but the criticisms nearly always came from the same people so she knew what to expect. On domestic violence, she said it had always existed but it was now getting more publicity which, she said, “probably gave ideas to men who were that way inclined”. She had several things to say about both foreign and Spanish politicians. She feels Hillary Clinton has been much maligned: “They make out that she’s very ambitious but the Hillary I know has great human qualities.” She said the King and Bill had taken to each other immediately. She also said she hoped Barak Obama would be the next US President: “He comes across as sincere and intelligent.” A bit closer to home, she revealed that relations with former Prime Minister Jos� Mar�a Aznar, alleged to have been strained, were “fluid, he was never unpleasant to us but his being so serious didn’t help.” As for the country’s first Socialist Prime Minister since the Civil War: “Felipe Gonzalez came from a Republican family and was republican himself because of his political persuasion but he was always exquisitely tactful in his relations with us.” On the country’s first woman Defence Minister, Carme Chacon, the Queen said: “A woman hasn’t the physical strength of a man, but you don’t command armies with muscle.” As for Fidel Castro, apparently the Queen asked him once why he didn’t open up Cuban society a little, just a little. Fidel replied: “Noooo, my Queen (mi reina), I can’t. If I open up a little they’ll immediately want much more.” So much fuss and so little to fuss about! Fortunately, there seems to be a growing backlash against political correctness which many people – myself included – feel has gone too far. It’s one thing to be sensitive to the feelings of minorities but quite another to allow them (the PC lot) to put our minds in straightjackets. The Inquisition tried, so did Stalin and his ilk, and where are they all now – on the dust heap of history. Happy birthday, Ma’am, and just carry on being as you are.