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Deja Vu

August 7, 2014

Who’s Your Daddy?

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2014: When King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicated his post this June, he opened himself up to a lawsuit from a Catalan waiter claiming to be the monarch’s illegitimate son, the Telegraph reports. Spain forbid any lawsuits to be brought against a reigning monarch, and now the courts must decide whether the divine protection afforded to royalty extends to those no longer sitting on the throne. Sola, now 58, wants acknowledgment of his royal bloodline:

Mr. Sola claims he has met with an agent of Spain’s intelligence who confirmed his DNA matches the King and recorded a video of him renouncing any claim to the throne.

He said in a recent interview published in The Sunday Times he only wants recognition.

“(King Juan Carlos) didn’t react when I asked him nicely,” said Mr. Sola, referring to dozens of unanswered letters he claims to have sent to Zarzuela Palace.

“I've no choice now but to put pressure on him. Every Spaniard has the right to know where he is from,” he added.

c. 1623: The titular character of Shakeapeare’s King Lear is primarily concerned with his three disparate daughters, but there’s another member of court angling for power—the Duke of Gloucester’s illegitimate son, Edmund. In a speech delivered in the play’s second act, Edmund rails against the very concept of bastardy:

EDMUND: Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well, then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate: fine word,—legitimate!
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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