Prince Felipe Turns 45

Prince Felipe de Asturias, the heir to the Spanish throne, turned 45 today. Members of the Royal Family will celebrate in private.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Don Felipe and his wife Princess Letizia made a public appearance today at the International Tourism Trade Fair happening in Madrid this week.

Hola published a series of pictures of the Prince’s life to commemorate the birthday.

El País published an essay about the Prince’s role over the weekend.

8.2 Million Euro Bail For Urdangarin, Partner

A Balearic Islands anti-corruption judge has imposed an 8.2 million euro bail for King Juan Carlos’ son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma de Mallorca, and a former business partner.

Iñaki_Urdangarín

Authorities are investigating the two for using their Noós Institute non-profit to steal public funds.

The New York Times noted that it was the first member of the Spanish Royal Family to appear in court in modern history.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

The anti-corruption judge has also subpoenaed Carlos García Revenga, secretary to Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina, Urdangarin’s wife. He has strongly denied wrongdoing and remains employed with the Royal Household.

Queen Sofia welcomes a new member to the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.
Queen Sofia welcomes a new member to the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

King Juan Carlos, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia have severely distanced themselves from their in-law. There are also reports of concern among the Spanish nobility.

Prince Celebrates Spain

Prince Felipe celebrated Spain’s win this weekend at the Men’s World Handball Championship, where the team took on Denmark at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Danish Princess Mary Donaldson joined the Prince during the game.

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The Danish Royal Family has ties to the Spanish Royal Family, particularly through Queen Sofia, officially Queen Sofia of Greece and Denmark.

King Works on Spanish Brand

King Juan Carlos, amid an ongoing effort to improve Spain’s brand abroad, especially amid a brutal recession, hosted members of the diplomatic corps at the Royal Palace in Madrid this week.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

The King expressed support for Spain becoming a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. He also called for closer ties between European counties, and warned against blaming any one nation for the economic crisis.

“The world is increasingly complex and competitive,” the King said.

King Juan Carlos has also been meeting with newly-elected heads of different autonomous regions.

Upcoming is a much-anticipated meeting with Catalan President Artur Mas, who is expected to present His Majesty with a proposal for a referendum on independence.

Meeting with Iñigo Urkullu Rentería, Lehendakari of the Basque Country.
Meeting with Iñigo Urkullu Rentería, Lehendakari of the Basque Country.

The Royal Household also announced King Juan Carlos’ planned visit to Morocco. The King is close to the Moroccan monarch despite occasional tensions over Spanish enclaves in North Africa.

Urdangarin Back In Court

King Juan Carlos’ son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma, will be back in court on February 23rd to testify before judge in connection to the ongoing public fraud investigation against him.

Urdangarin testified before a Balearic Islands judge around this time last year. He denies wrongdoing amid accusations that he used a non-profit for personal gain.

El País newspaper also reported that tax authorities accuse the Duke of using a real estate firm that he shared with his wife, Infanta Cristina, as a front to avoid taxes.

Prosecutors say they are not pursuing the King’s daughter.

The Royal Household has worked to distance itself from the scandal, with many Spaniards comparing it to other corruption probes involving the political class.

UPDATE: The Royal Household has removed Urdangarin’s personal profile from its official webpage. It’s evidence of the King and the Prince further distancing themselves from their in-law.

Queen Receives Award, Prince Welcomes DOD Secy.

This week the Broseta Foundation awarded Queen Sofia its prize for coexistence. The group touted her social welfare efforts, her support for Democracy and her work for the development of Spain.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Valencian Community President Alberto Fabra presented Her Majesty with the award at the government palace, the Palau de la Generalitat.

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King Juan Carlos received the same award in 2007. It’s named after a Spanish law professor who was murdered by Basque separatists.

Also this week, Prince Felipe received U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He’s touting Europe as he prepares to leave the Pentagon.

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Members of the Royal Family have been extremely busy over the last several weeks, perhaps in an effort to increase their profile.

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Prince Felipe reviews documents for Madrid’s candidacy to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

The public agenda shows numerous meetings, several a day in some cases, with social welfare organizations and business groups, among others.

Prince Felipe Presides Over Military Funeral

Prince Felipe yesterday presided over the funeral of Sgt. David Fernández Ureña, a Spanish soldier who died in Afghanistan last Friday.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Media reports indicate that the Spanish Army service member was trying to neutralize an explosive when he died.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

The funeral was held at a military facility in Zaragoza.

A Tough Encounter

Prince Felipe of Asturias and Girona was in Catalonia today, including Girona, inaugurating the new high speed train connection with France.

The event was much anticipated because it was a chance for the Prince and Spanish Government President Mariano Rajoy to meet with Catalonian president Artur Mas, who has been on an increasingly deepening quest for independence.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Central government representatives used the event to highlight the importance of Catalonia within Spain, and show the train as an investment in the region.

But local officials said it was too little, too late.

Military On Sidelines Of Pro-Independence Controversy

Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés alluded to the military’s role amid pro-independence rumblings in Catalonia, saying the armed forces will not respond to provocations and will quietly perform their duty.

The comments are an allusion to concerns that the military may want to violate Democrats institutions and get involved in any political crisis, or prevent secession.

The remarks were part of the “Pascua Militar,” an annual event at the Royal Palace in Madrid where the Royal Family and Spain’s leadership recognize military accomplishments and talk about priorities.

Throne Room at the Royal Palace in Madrid.© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
Throne Room at the Royal Palace in Madrid.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

King Juan Carlos thanked members of the armed forces for their work at home, including helping with recent fires, and abroad, including service in Afghanistan. He said the military was also part of improving the country’s economy.

King Juan Carlos Won’t Abdicate, Shuns Catalonian Independence

King Juan Carlos rejected any suggestion of possible abdication during an interview on Spanish Television tonight marking his 75th birthday tomorrow.

The King said, “I am doing well and wish to continue” with the duties of Head of State.

Asked about his legacy, His Majesty said,” I don’t like to talk about myself.” But expressed pride in having helped unite “all Spaniards” and accomplished his duty to restore Democracy and the Crown.

392px-President_Reagan_and_Mrs._Reagan_greet_King_Juan_Carlos_I_and_Queen_Sophia_of_Spain_1981
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Of course, Spain remains divided, especially with regions like Catalonia discussing whether to seek independence. The King reiterated his distaste for the politics of “intransigence” and division.

He called the current generation one “of liberty,” but said Spain still had to work on becoming a more equal and fair society. He wants the country to be united behind “one future and one idea.”

“To me it hurts me a lot,” the King said about people having to leave Spain to find work amid a tough recession.

King Juan Carlos' father, the Count of Barcelona, resigns any claims to the throne, allowing his son to follow Gen. Franco as Head of State. The King's mother Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies in yellow. © Agencia EFE
King Juan Carlos’ father, the Count of Barcelona, resigns in 1977 any claims to the throne, allowing his son to follow Gen. Franco as Head of State. The King’s mother Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies in yellow.
© Agencia EFE

Don Juan Carlos has been King since 1975. “More that satisfied I feel fortunate,” he said.

On the day of King's proclamation. © Agencia EFE
On the day of King’s proclamation.
© Agencia EFE

The interview was never expected to generate controversy of bring about tough questions. Still, commentators quickly said it could have been less formal, allowing for the King’s jovial personality to come through.

Click here to watch the interview.