Page 3, 24th October 1941

24th October 1941
Page 3
Page 3, 24th October 1941 — ON THEIR WEDDING DAV
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ON THEIR WEDDING DAV

Murder Stained With hood the White Wedding Gown of Alfonso'

English Bride I by Robert Sencourt

FOR seveial days guests had been arriving: for it is not every day that you see the wedding of a king. That other sovereigns should be present would have disturbed the etiquette that gives the highest honour to the bridegroom and his bride; however, the heirs of mighty thrones were come. From London the Prince and Princess of Wales; from Vienna the Archduke Franz Ferdinand (though without his wife lest any question should arise about her precedence); from Rome, the Duke and Duchess of Genoa; from Portugal Dom Carlos, from Brussels Albert, the Count of Flanders, from St. Petelsburg the Grand Duke Wladimir; from Germany Prince Henry of Pi ussia. Envoys came also from the Vatican and the Sublime Porte, from Sweden and Siam, from Persia and Peru. All the Princes were gathered, with the Knights of the Golden Fleece, at El Pardo to see the King sign the marriage contract with the Princess. The presents had been worthy of their donors. The bridegroom had himself given the bride her jewelled crown and her wedding-dress embroidered on the bright sheen of white satin with glittering silver.

Such then was the procession: King, Queen-Mother, Princes, Princesses, Ambassadors, Nobles, Envoys, Ministers of State: which set out in the brilliance of the morning to the Church of San Jeronimo where, in cope and mitre, amidst the intensity of electric lights and the sumptuous effect of tapestries, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Toledo was waiting to give the marriage blessing. Such was to be the ceremony which was to raise the young grand-daughters of the Inorganic marriage of the son of a German Duke to be a Queen Victoria and Queen of Spain.

The Bride was Blessed

Within the church, the ceremonies of religion sanctified the mysteries of marriage, and added to this blessing the majesty of the Mass. The bride was blessed. She received her silver and her ring. She went with her husband into the cloister to sign the register, she returned to receive the greetings of all the company in the church, beginning with the lowest in rank, ending with the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Queen. Mother. Each, as they passed on, entered a carriage to drive hack up the long avenues, to pass through the Puerta del Sol to the narrow old high street of Madrid, the Calle Mayor, and so on to the banks of the Manzanares, to the sight of green space, and to the imposing splendour of the Royal Palace.

Bride and bridegroom drove on in this brilliance of sunlight and colour, flags waved above them. trophies' hung from every window. Everywhere the red and gold of Spain gave the ellect of a radiant dawn. Everywhere there was the sweet freshness of flowers around and above the great crowd of enthusiastic people who poured on the young bride and bridegroom their acclamations in the pride of Spain and their welcome to the King and Queen on thejr wedding-day.

Cannons boomed in the distance, the bells tilled the air with joyful clamour, trumpets added their intenser stridency, and through all came the roar and shout of human voices, with their plaudits and their vivas, to intensify the elation and ardour of the royal bridegroom.

Long Procession of Splendour And so his carriage, drawn by eight white horses, and surmounted by the two golden orbs which signified Spain's Dominions, moved triumphantly on: with the tramp of calvary and martial music, it was the culmination of the long procession of splendour. And thus, amid yet louder acclamations, it had passed through the dense crowds of that central space called the Gateway of the Sun: it had entered the narrow Spanish high street to bring the triumphal journey to its end. A little down that street, a special stand had been erected for officials and ladies of the court, and from these came a warmth of acclaim that was personal in its affection.

While the King and Queen turned to acknowledge this special favour of loyalty. the procession was stopped for a moment. As it stopped a great bouquet of flowers fell from a house to the right on the rump of one of the horses. Flowers, but with then, came the crash of an explosion. the flash of flame, the acrid smell of powerful chemicals, and a thick cloud of smoke. The maddened horses reared and then stampeded; there were groans and screams of pain mingling with yells of terror. Of the horses drawing the royal carriage, one had its forelegs shot off and its stomach ripped open, while the others plunged forward.

Among the royal equerries. the soldiers lining the street, and the crowd on the pavements, over a hundred were injured: twelve were actually dead. Among these was the young and beautiful Marchioness de Tolosa, who was watching at a window in the house from which the bomb was thrown, Great splashes of blood were driven over the street to the royal carriage, and, her gown of white satin and silver stained with the blood of the dying and the dead, the Queen sank fainting to the floor.

Presentiment of Danger

But neither the bridegroom nor the bride was personally injured. He had raised her, and shielding her eyes from the horrors, had helped her into the Coach of Respect, as it is called, which always follows the royal coach in Spain's processions. Into this the King assisted her while she waved to the crowd, trying to smile, Colonel Guy Windham and an escort of The Sixteenth Lancers were soon at hand and now, guarded by these, the Coach of Respect drove the royal pair to their palace.

As she had donned her glittering weddingdress in the Ministry of Marines, the bride had been restless with a presentiment of danger. To behave faultlessly before so many eminent strangers was in itself something of an ordeal: in that all had gone well: but who could have guessed that on this day of welcome and of splendour she was to be endangered and horrified by the machinations of that bitterness which had hissed its undertones to all the whirring factories and murrnurine movement of the progless of the nineteenth eentury? This ire Spain, as elsewhere, concentrated the bitterness on the central representatives of society with the violence of vice and of crime.

Nowhere had the significant voice of the age spoken with fiercer emphasis than when, on that shining summer day, in the stainless air of Madrid, amid the banners and the acclamations which greeted a royal wedding than when it arrested the procession with murder—when it stained with blood the white wedding-gown of the Queen.

What was the Motive ?

It was indeed by interventions that seemed providential that the young sovereigns had not been killed. The anarchist's first plan had been to secure the permit of a journalist, and to throw his bomb from the reporter's tribune to the very foot of the altar. It was only because at the last moment the tribune was finally reserved for the little eousin who at that moment was heir-presumptive that this dire plan had failed. And even when the bomb was thrown, the anaichist's timing had been falsified by the halt of the procession, so that the bomb's fall was broken on a horse's back, and it exploded both further forward and with less violence than was expected.

What exactly was the motive and provenance of the assassin?

Mateo Mortal was known 11.1 the police to be an agirator,,but had done nothing which the police Brought justified arrest. He seemed a titan of superior type: his hands clean and well cared fur: his clothes arid his general appearance were those of a decent 1111111: his bearaed face was not unpleasant: his features were regular: his expression mild. It was owing to all these traits of respectability that he had eluded the police when he took a room in a pension giving on the Celle Mayer.

But mind and body were both diseased. In his native Barcelona he had attended an atheist school, founded by a revolutionary of dissolute life; this was the so-called Escudo Moderna of Francisco Fetter. There was indeed a strong suspicion that Ferrer had incited him to the clime. The police could not prove that, but a leading barrister of the Left who said that he would defend him if he were innocent, asked to sec certain files of the Morral Case. After examining them for some days, the barrister refused to defend Ferrer.

One of Many Assassins When the worn' of Morrie was searched, it reeked with the odour of the chemicals he had used for his bomb, and from others he had employed to treat the syphilis from which he suffered ; but he himself had gone without a trace. In the confusion which followed the bursting of the bomb, he had rushed downstairs to mix with the crowd in the street. He had then reached the office of a revolutionary newspaper, Mutiny. The editor of this newspaper helped him to escape to an outlying village on the way to the Escorial. Here he was hidden for two days when a local policeman arrested him;

but Moroi], after being anested, found a 'means to shoot both the policeman and himself.

Subsequent enquiries proved that he was but one of miny assassins: many anonymous letters conveying threats had indeed been sent to the Royal Palace before the wedding-day; and the greatest suspicion was centred on the atheistical scheol, the Escuela Moderna, in which Mortal had received his training in 1311rcelona, and on its

dissolute master. The connection between licentious life, anarchy, atheism and crime was so common in the schemes of the agitators that no discerning Spanidd was fool enough to ignoie it. Their war was against society, civilisation, decency and religion. Such was the for& which, in addition to the assassination of the Empress Elizabeth, King Humbert and President Mackinley in 1908, murdered the King and Queen of Portugal by the hand of Rull, an assassin from Barcelona.

" To anyone wishing to understand the history of Terrorism in Barcelona," wrote Count Romanones, "I recommend the study of the trial of Rull and his accomplices, for in it will be found abundant material to explain the finished forces of the industrialisation of terror. It is a phenomenon so strange, so dissimilar from anything that happens in other places that in its investigation the most famous detectiees from Scot. land Yard would fail," Romanones had found the phase, the industrialisation of terror, a grim reaction from the terror of industrialisation. The criminal conditions in some factories had made some workmen's organisations into factories of crime. This was but a more open and organised manifestation of the revolutionary societies which had disturbed the towns of Spain from the beginning of the Carlist war, but which were now linked with more methodical effort in other countries. It is the fire and drama in the Spanish temperament which gave them there an obviousness which was long to he hidden in the stifling calm of less passionate and better organised countries.

Later in the same year this industrialisation of terror led to a series of crimes in Barcelona itself.




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