King Felipe used his bully pulpit to appeal for Spanish unity and common values amid separatist sentiments in Catalonia and Basque Country.
King Felipe, speaking at the 2014 Prince of Asturias Awards, hailed Spain’s economic, social and political process over the past few decades.
“Let’s feel proud of the good we’ve done together,” he said. “We are protagonists of the same path, And I am convinced that comprehension, affection, consideration and mutual respect are feelings found in the hearts of all Spaniards.”
The King’s words may seem routine, but they are telling and deeply strategic in Spain’s current political climate.
Among this year’s winners of the prestigious award, named after the heir to the Spanish Crown, were U.S. architect Frank Gehry and the Fulbright Program.
As is tradition, Their Majesties also visited a local Asturian community to highlight local efforts at improving residents’ quality of life.
The Prince of Asturias Foundation and Awards will soon be called the Princess of Asturias Foundation and Awards after Princess Leonor, 8, the new heir to the Spanish throne.
King Felipe, the former Prince of Asturias, was 13 when he delivered his first speech at the awards ceremony. It was seen as a milestone in his preparation.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia this week made their first official visit as Spanish Monarchs to the Netherlands.
They visited King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, plus a number of Dutch government officials.
The couples are said to have a close relationship, particularly the Queens, who recently sat together at the United Nations. Queen Máxima is from Argentina and, like Queen Letizia, is not of Royal birth.
Separately this week, King Felipe opened this year’s session of the Royal Academies. Tradition calls for His Majesty to visit different academies every year. This time he went to the Royal Academy of Sciences.
Queen Sofia was at the Monumental Theater in Madrid on Thursday to award the Queen Sofia Musical Composition Award.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia presided this weekend over the first Fiesta Nacional event of their young reign.
The Fiesta Nacional, or National Day, involves a military parade in downtown Madrid. The Royal Family watches from an elaborate reviewing stand.
Princess Leonor, the new Princess of Asturias, and Infanta Sofia stood with their parents during the event.
The Royals then hosted a reception at the Royal Palace in Madrid. It included hundreds of guests from government and civil society, an expansion from previous years.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were not at the Fiesta Nacional this year, opting to leave the spotlight to the new King and Queen.
Separately, in recent weeks Spanish media reported that Rafael Spottorno, former head of the Royal Household under King Juan Carlos, resigned as a royal adviser because of allegations that he improperly used a credit card from bank Caja Madrid.