A recent photo of King of Spain standing proudly next to a dead elephant made him a target in the press, and the public attacked him for his extravagance and his insensitivity to the suffering of others --both to the beasts being shot and the economic suffering of ordinary Spaniards.
So when the governor of Florida brought up the gaffe in front of dozens of reporters during a meet-and-greet in Spain, it made for an awkward exchange.
“I’ve ridden elephants, I’ve never tried to shoot one,” a smiling Gov. Rick Scott said as he shook the hand of King Juan Carlos, according to clips running on YouTube.
A stunned king seemed to not know how to respond.
“Oh,” he mumbled.
The episode is a touchy subject for the king, which came under fire from animal rights activists who berated him for hunting elephants. In photos that appeared on a website, the king also appeared next to dead African buffaloes.
It was a rare time Spain’s monarchy had been subject to such scrutiny.
When the Florida governor brought up the one topic that the king likely wanted to avoid, it seemed to make King Juan Carlos squirm. But the governor kept the elephant conversation going, and going.
“We were in Botswana,” Scott says, referring to the area where the king went hunting. “And we were in the Jeep. And an elephant started to chase the Jeep. My wife was in the back part of the Jeep and she wanted to get out to the front of the Jeep.”
“I needed you in the Jeep with me,” Ann told the king, apparently needing his hunting skills during their journey.
The governor didn’t end there.
He also brought up the 74-year-old monarch’s fall in a park, which sent him to the hospital with a broken hip. He asked the king how he fell, and wasn’t happy with the response.
“You need a better story than that,” Scott said with a chuckle. “Maybe that you were riding something and then you fell off.”
At least there were no elephants in the room.