Prior of Valle de los Caídos refuses to allow Franco's remains to be removed

Santiago Cantera at the Valle de los Caídos.
Santiago Cantera at the Valle de los Caídos. / ALBERTO FERRERAS
  • Visitor numbers to the site near Madrid were up 34 per cent last year amid all the extra attention

The latest complication has emerged in the government's quest to exhume the remains of dictator General Franco from his ceremonial resting place and rebury him somewhere less controversial.

Santiago Cantera, prior of the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) monastery, which is responsible for the basilica in the Madrid mountains where Franco is buried, has said that he won't allow anyone in to take away the coffin when the time comes.

Government sources have said that it is hardly surprising that the prior has objected as he has a far-right political past.

The Socialist government has pledged to remove Franco, who many consider to be inappropriately buried in the gigantic Spanish Civil War monument. But it is taking much longer than expected, as ministers have faced protests from Franco's family and the need to change the law, inadvertently getting the Vatican involved as well.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that visitor numbers to the Valle de Los Caídos site surged by 34 per cent to almost 379,000 in 2018 amid all the extra interest.