A royal pain for the Spanish monarchy

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When the English monarch in Alan Bennett's novella "The Uncommon Reader" decides to write her memoirs, she takes the prudent step of abdicating first. Queen Sofia of Spain may be wondering whether she, too, should have waited for her husband, King Juan Carlos, to leave office before granting a Spanish journalist a series of uncharacteristically candid interviews.

The resulting book, "The Queen Up Close," has provided Spaniards an uncomfortably close look at their queen's conservative views. Her comments on homosexuality, gay marriage, euthanasia and religious education have outraged liberal Spaniards and tarnished an image of discretion that she had carefully tended for decades.

In the most notorious gaffe in the book, the queen said that she respected people's different sexual tendencies but did not understand why "they should feel proud to be gay."

"That they get up on floats and parade in the streets? If all of us who are not gay were to parade in the streets, we'd halt the traffic in every city," she said. She then added that while gay people had a right to unions, they should not be permitted to call them marriages.

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