Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Theodore Xanthaky, Special Assistant to the Ambassador in Portugal (MacVeagh)1


Participants: Bon Juan, Pretender to the throne of Spain
Theodore Xanthaky, Special Assistant to the Ambassador

I saw Don Juan at his home in Estoril last night. I told him that there were persistent rumors afloat in Madrid that he and Franco would soon have another meeting. He replied that there was absolutely no substance to these reports and that as a matter of fact his relations with the Generalissimo are now at an impasse. He explained that after Franco’s speech before the Cortes last May, which was considered unfavorable to the monarchical cause, he communicated with Julio Danvilla, who has acted as intermediary between himself and Franco, and asked him to see the Caudillo and in his name request an explanation of the speech. Danvilla saw Franco and brought back to Estoril the latter’s observation “But why does Don Juan read speeches? Tell him that it has no importance (no tiene importancia) and that there is nothing for him to worry about.” Don Juan sent word back to Franco via Danvilla to the effect that he was not satisfied with the explanation given and he has heard nothing further from Franco since. Don Juan remarked that there has not been a single indication since his conversation last year with the Caudillo2 which could even remotely be interpreted as a sign that Franco intends to relinquish power in the foreseeable future. “On the contrary,” he said, “Franco appears determined to continue until his death. If he had a son I am convinced that he might even attempt to found a dynasty even though such a [Page 755] thing isn’t done in 1949.” Don Juan said he must in all fairness admit that Franco had prevented Falange newspapers etc. from attacking the monarchy which underlies the present clamor of the Falange for freedom of the press (for themselves alone, of course). The Pretender added that following his 1948 conversation with Franco he gave instructions to his supporters in Spain to suspend their propaganda activities. However, in view of Franco’s May Cortes address and the unsatisfactory explanation received, Don Juan recently sent a short message to General Kindelan simply stating that there would be no objection to “monarchists; discretely [discreetly?] resuming their activities.” Concerning reports emanating from Madrid that Don Juan intended shortly to take advantage of the recent coalition of opposition forces to attempt to force Franco to step aside in favor of the monarchy, Don Juan remarked, “That, of course, is a complete fairytale. While I consider the coalition useful and important for the cause of the monarchy, Franco is still in an impregnable position, in spite of the hunger, the very difficult economic situation and the corrupt bureaucracy in Spain. In the meantime I shall remain in the background and allow the politicians to work.” The Pretender remarked he was aware that at times his name was invoked rather freely in Madrid by some of his well-meaning supporters and for that reason he was very careful to restrict his personal communications to the barest minimum. Don Juan then mentioned that Carrero Blanco, the Sub-Secretary of the Presidency, is the eminence grise of the Franco regime. Completely devoted to the Caudillo, he is the only person who sees and consults with him every day, has his finger in every pie and really has influence. “Incidentally,” remarked Don Juan “Franco is a complete cynic about men. I recall that in our conference on the yacht, he remarked that anybody could be bought.” In this connection Don Juan said that on several occasions since 1942, and as recently as their 1948 conference, Franco has offered to facilitate his (Don Juan’s) personal finances and foreign exchange problems but that he has always politely refused the offer. The Pretender said that not so long ago a story was being circulated in Spain that the Government had advanced him 700,000 pesetas toward the education of his son, the Prince of Asturias. As a matter of fact, he said, his son’s expenses in Spain personally cost him 6000 pesetas a month, out of which the schooling of two other boys also is paid. Don Juan added that his two sisters, both of whom are married to Italians, were very anxious to go to Spain to spend some of their blocked pesetas there and he had to prohibit their visit. Continuing his ideas on the importance of the coalition of the leftist groups with the monarchists, Don Juan stated that he did not particularly fear leftist influence once he came to the [Page 756] throne. “After all,” he said, “the monarchy can only be revived with the active support of the Army and the Bishops. If I have that support, the leftist forces will have to take their proper back seat and if they should attempt to dominate they would be immediately knocked down.” Don Juan said that if the Caudillo should suggest another meeting with him, it is his firm intention only to agree to this provided concrete subjects were to be discussed and in the presence of his advisers. He therefore does not anticipate that another meeting will take place in the near future.

T[heodore] A. X[anthaky]
  1. The source text was sent as an enclosure to Despatch No. 205 from Lisbon, July 29, not printed (852.00/7–2949).
  2. Documentation on Franco’s meeting with Don Juan aboard the latter’s yacht in the fall of 1948 is in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iii, memorandum dated November 2, p. 1059.