King Addresses Corruption, Catalonia Head On

King Felipe was blunt and direct in addressing Spain’s three most pressing issues during his first Christmas Eve message.

Don Felipe, sitting in a room at Zarzuela Palace, stressed the need to overcome the continuing unemployment crisis, spoke out against corruption and called for unity amid Catalan separatism.

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

King Felipe, in one of his most direct pleas against Catalan independence, said, “Millions of Spaniards have Catalonia in their hears, much like millions of Catalans see other Spaniards as part of their being.”

The King's message often includes framed pictures from the year. Note frames with Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia.
The King’s message often includes framed pictures from the year. Note frames with Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia.

Don Felipe said it would be better for Spain and Catalonia to resolve challenges together rather than face separate futures.

“Problems are not resolved through emotional ruptures,” said the King. “Let’s make a loyal and sincere effort to recall what we must never lose — mutual affection and shared sentiments.”

Note a picture of King Juan Carlos' abdication ceremony at the bottom left.
Note a picture of King Juan Carlos’ abdication ceremony at the bottom left.

King Felipe did not discuss the fraud allegations against his sister, stemming from her husband’s business dealings, or calls for her to renounce her dynastic rights.

But he did zero in on corruption and said it was a positive sign to see the justice system going after wrongdoers.

“We must cut corruption by the root and without contemplation,” said the King. “The honesty of public servants is a basic pillar of our shared lives in a Spain that we all want healthy and clean.”

Holiday Cards Highlight Proclamation

King Felipe and Queen Letizia’s first Holiday cards as Spain’s reigning monarchs highlight this year’s proclamation.

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They include a picture of Their Majesties greeting crowds from the Madrid Royal Palace balcony, plus a picture with their daughters — Leonor, Princess of Asturias, and Infanta Sofia.

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King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia sent out a card with the image of a religious painting from the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Idelfonso outside Segovia.

Previous Royal Family cards have included either family pictures or from museum or Royal collections.

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Note that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia did not use the “R” after their name, as they did when they were reigning monarchs.

Anticipation Builds For King’s Speach

Anticipation is building across Spain for King Felipe’s first Christmas Eve speech of his reign.

The speech has often been the Spanish King’s most important message to his people of the year, touching on issues like corruption and the economy.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia have reduced their public agenda as the holiday’s approach, and as the King prepares his remarks.

© Casa de Su Majestad el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de Su Majestad el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Yesterday they met with official representatives of Spanish Grandees, the highest form of nobility in the country, at the Royal Palace of El Pardo.

Their Majesties also met with leaders of Patrimonio Nacional, the government body charged with administering royal palaces and other related cites.

Media outlets have been wondering whether King Felipe’s message will touch on his sister’s impending trial.

They say the Catalan government television will show Don Felipe’s message. The Basque government channel will not. Both are regions with more republican sentiments.

Infanta Cristina Going To Trial

Infanta Cristina, King Juan Carlos’ youngest daughter and King Felipe’s sister, will stand trial for fraud charges, a Balearic Islands judge announced today, according to Spanish media.

Members of the Royal Family and extended King’s Family were hoping Infanta Cristina would be able to avoid trial, especially after paying almost 600,000 euros in restitution.

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Infanta Cristina’s wedding in Barcelona in 1997. © EFE via Casa de S.M. El Rey.

Infanta Cristina’s legal troubles are tied to her husband Iñaki Urdangarín’s business dealings. He stands accused of using a non-profit company for personal gain through lucrative government contracts.

Infanta Cristina, currently 6th in line to the throne, has yet to resign her dynastic rights. Pressure is mounting on her to do so.

Italians Celebrate King Juan Carlos

Italian diplomats and business leaders awarded King Juan Carlos today the 100th anniversary Tiepolo Award, meant to promote Spanish-Italian relations.

Organizers awarded Don Juan Carlos for his commitment to bilateral relations between the two countries and also his role in Spain’s transition to Democracy.

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

King Juan Carlos, who recently abdicated and handed over power to his son King Felipe, was born in Italy while his parents were in exile.

But, like Queen Sofia, he has been making numerous public and private appearances.

King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia Attend Mass For Duchess

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were together again this week for church services in remembrance of the late Duchess of Alba, the woman with the most titles of nobility in the world.

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

The Madrid services were at the Royal Basilica of San Francisco El Grande, where Their Majesties offered their condolences to the Duchess’ widower and children.

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King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia near the altar. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Infanta Elena attended funeral services for the Duchess at the Seville Cathedral shortly after her death last month in official representation of the Crown.

Infanta Cristina Hopes Big Payment Resolves Liability

Infanta Cristina this week gave a court in Palma de Mallorca almost 600,000 euros in restitution for potential civil violations.

Infanta Cristina’s husband, Iñaki Urdangarín, has for years been under investigation for allegations of using a non-profit company for personal gain through lucrative government contracts.

Urdangarín has denied responsibility and there has been a judicial tug-of-war over whether his wife should be implicated in the case.

The main focus of the Royal Household is keeping the King’s sister out of court, and her paying almost 600,000 euros may achieve that goal.

Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma. Photo courtesy Organization of American States via Flickr.
Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma. Photo courtesy Organization of American States via Flickr.

Spanish media outlets did not only focus on the payment this week, but on the fact that Infanta Cristina’s legal team originally deposited the money at the wrong court in Barcelona rather than Palma.

King Juan Carlos’ recent abdication and King Felipe’s proclamation has eased the controversy’s effect on the Royal Family.

That’s because Infanta Cristina is no longer a member of the nuclear Royal Family, but of a set of relatives known as the King’s Family.

King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia Together In Public

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia have made a handful of public appearances together in recent weeks, rebutting claims that the couple plans to formally separate.

Their Majesties attended the funeral today for Spanish-born former Belgian Queen Fabiola.

© Agencia EFE
King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. © Agencia EFE

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia may not have a close relationship, but the two appear committed to preventing further controversy about the Royal Family.

Recently the two attended the viewing at the Royal Palace in Madrid of a Royal Family portrait that has been 20 years in the making.

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

Recent public appearances show Queen Sofia’s continuing commitment to Spain following her husband’s abdication.

Queen Sofia presiding over awards ceremony against drug use. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
Queen Sofia presiding over awards ceremony against drug use. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
Queen Sofia presiding over poetry awards ceremony at the Royal Palace in Madrid. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
Queen Sofia presiding over poetry awards ceremony at the Royal Palace in Madrid. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

King Attends First Ibero-American Summit

King Felipe marked a milestone of his young reign this week by attending his first Ibero-American summit as Spanish head of state.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
King Felipe arrives in Mexico. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Don Felipe met with business and political leaders from around Latin America and the Iberian peninsula at the Veracruz, Mexico gathering.

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King Felipe with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The Ibero-American summit is seem as a venue for Spanish international influence, plus interactions with its former colonies.

But lackluster turnout has prompted observers to recommend reforms to the summit, perhaps less frequent meetings.

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

Spain has strong economic and cultural ties to Latin America, something the Spanish Crown has been working to strengthen.

Before becoming King, Don Felipe was Spain’s official representative to presidential inaugurations in Latin America. It was a way for the former prince to become known in the region.

King Visits Catalonia, Meets With Separatist Leader

King Felipe last week made headlines by traveling to Catalonia for the second trip to the Spanish autonomous community of his reign.

King Felipe’s visit to Spanish car company SEAT S.A.’s factory in Martorell came as the Catalan government plans ways of seceding from Spain, or at least securing a vote on the issue.

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

Observers saw the image of King Felipe being behind the wheel of a SEAT car with Catalan President Artur Mas as deeply symbolic.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
His Majesty greeting factory workers. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

King Felipe has promised to make more trips to Catalonia.