An important rule of etiquette in the Spanish language is to always use the formal form to show respect – especially when talking to the King.
But proper Spanish etiquette seemingly slipped the mind of one TV reporter while she was interviewing King Felipe VI about the EuroBasket game on Sunday, where Spain beat Lithuania 80-63 to take home the gold.
The Telecinco reporter was asking the King about how he had adjusted his schedule to cheer the basketball players on to their win, but referred to him throughout by using the informal tu tense.
“Estuviste con los jugadores después del partido, de la fase preparación, que jugaban en Madrid. Te comprometiste a que si ellos llegaran en la final ajustabas la agenda para estar aquí con ellos.”
“You [informal] were with the players after the game, during the preparation phase, when they were playing in Madrid. You [informal] promised that if they were in the final, you [informal] would adjust your schedule to be with them,” reporter María Victoria Albertos said to the King.
INFH CRTST 210915094750 Críticas en las redes a una periodista de Telecinco por tutear al Rey http://t.co/MPbHPlJcK9
— InfoHeaders_Test (@InfoHeaders_Tes) September 21, 2015
It wasn’t until the end of the question when she corrected herself.
“Ellos han cumplido y tú tambien – usted también.”
“They have succeeded, and you [informal] as well – you [formal] as well,” she said, correcting herself.
In Spain, the tu form is used when speaking in an informal setting, with friends or to children. But the usted form is reserved for speaking to someone in a formal setting, such as to a supervisor, someone in a position of authority… or to royalty.
The King himself did not seem taken aback by Albertos' informality, and answered her questions with a smile.
The reporter's momentary lapse in decorum did not go unnoticed on social media. Soon Twitter was flooded with comments from viewers, some not so pleased with the way Albertos addressed King Felipe.
¿De dónde ha sacado Telecinco a esa tía ordinaria que tutea al Rey? http://t.co/iXhWds5JDA
— José Antonio Gavira (@Jose_Gavira) September 20, 2015
“Where did Telecinco get this common woman who uses the informal tense with the King?”
Estoy hasta el gorro del tuteo en este país. Ahora le ha tocado al Rey. El otro día a mi madre con 87 años. Respeto, sólo pido respeto.
— Marta Carrasco (@MartaCarrasco4) September 20, 2015
“I am fed up with the informal tense in this country. Now it has happened to the King. The other day to my 87-year-old mother. Respect, I only ask for respect.”
But others seemed to think the situation had been overblown.
Los indignados por el tuteo al rey que vuelvan del siglo XVI, por favor.
— Johnny (@TMCjohnny) September 20, 2015
“Those who are indignant about the informal you with the king can return to the 16th century, please.”
La periodista de T5 tuteó al Rey porque ahí el auténtico rey ha sido Pau. #VamosEspaña
— Zaira (@ZairaBL) September 20, 2015
“The Telecinco reporter called the King 'tu' because there the real king is Pau,” said another user, referring to the Spanish team's forward, Pau Gasol.
Others had fun pointing out that the King's wife, Queen Letizia, was herself a journalist.
La última periodista que tuteó al Rey se acabó casando con él.
— M. Tudesky. (@SrRdn) September 20, 2015
“The last journalist to call the King 'tu' ended up married to him.”