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