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.

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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.

King Juan Carlos Turns 75

King Juan Carlos turns 75 tomorrow and in commemoration Spanish Television is airing an exclusive interview with the Monarch this evening.

While he often answers questions from the press at public events, the sit-down chat is the King’s first in more than a decade.

© Dany Virgili
© Dany Virgili

The interview is also an effort to restore the Monarchy’s reputation among many Spaniards, especially in communities like Catalonia and the Basque Country.

Basque politicians recently removed a picture of the King from a town hall. And a Catalonian community is removing his name from a roadway.

Beyond Republican and pro-independence tendencies, critics see the King as being too close to former dictator Franco.

Don Juan Carlos, however, was a main force behind the transition to democracy in the 1970’s and 80’s.

UPDATE: The Spanish Royal Mint is releasing a coin to mark the King’s 75 years.