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Archive for December, 2015

King Felipe called for dialogue and unity during his much anticipated Christmas Eve speech.

The message came in the wake of national elections, where no party won enough votes to form a government.

Talks are ongoing over potential coalitions. The outcome could be pivotal because of Spain’s ongoing economic, social and political challenges.

“Today’s Spain is very different to the Spain of earlier centuries, thanks to the real and generous willingness to compromise of all its people, their sincere spirit of reconciliation and overcoming our historic differences, and the commitment of the political and social forces to serving all the people and the general interests of the nation, which must always be paramount,” said the King.

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© Agencia EFE

The King’s speech was the first ever at the Royal Palace in Madrid, the Crown’s official seat.

Don Felipe said he wanted to express Spain’s greatness with dignity and solemnity.

He also wanted to use the historic structure to highlight the country’s history and call for unity amid a secession movement in Catalonia.

“I sincerely believe that we are living in times when more than ever, we need to recognize in ourselves everything which unites us,” the King said. “We need to see the worth in what we have built together over the years with many great sacrifices, generosity and enormous dedication.”

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© Casa de S.M. el Rey

While promoting unity, the King also highlighted Spain’s diversity.

Commentators praised the King for presenting a prudent and neutral message amid political uncertainty.

Yet, critics in some autonomous regions said His Majesty did not go far enough in recognizing cultural and linguistic differences within the Kingdom.

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The political uncertainty stemming from Spain’s recent elections are putting King Felipe in the spotlight.

Even though the conservative Popular Party won a majority of votes, they did not secure enough to control parliament and quickly form a government.

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King Felipe with military leaders at the Royal Palace. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

With no clear coalition emerging, Don Felipe has the constitutional power to help mediate the situation. He will soon meet with leaders of the different parties.

The uncertainty has also elevated interest for the King’s traditional Christmas Eve speech.

His Majesty will deliver the recorded speech from the Throne Room at the Madrid Royal Palace for the first time ever, rather than at the Zarzuela Palace complex where the royals live.

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Queen Letizia presiding over a health care related meeting. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

Even though King Felipe and Queen Letizia have re-energized the Spanish Crown, left wing victories are threatening its place in society.

In Navarre, for example, new leaders decided to include the King and Queen from their Prince of Viana awards.

The Prince of Viana is one of the traditional titles of the Spanish heir to the throne, currently Princess Leonor.

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King Juan Carlos was in Argentina this month attending inauguration ceremonies for the country’s new President Mauricio Macri.

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Don Juan Carlos with Macri.

The trip was key for Spain. Relations had soured with past Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Kirchner led the nationalization of Spanish energy giant Repsol SA’s Argentine operations.

Kirchner did not attend Macri’s inauguration ceremonies, but King Juan Carlos’ visit signals a new page in relations between their countries.

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The King chats with Chilean President Michelle Bechelet.

King Juan Carlos’ son, King Felipe, used to attend inauguration ceremonies in Latin America when he was Prince of Asturias.

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King Felipe and Queen Letizia last week honored two police officers killed in a terrorist attack at the Spanish embassy in Kabul.

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Their Majesties met with family members of the two officers, condemned the attack and expressed their admiration of the service members.

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British Queen Elizabeth has invited King Felipe and Queen Letizia for a state visit next March.

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King Felipe and Queen Letizia with British Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall in 2011. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Their Majesties will stay at Windsor Castle during their time in the United Kingdom.

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King Felipe welcomes Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia visited Queen Elizabeth on an official state visit in 1986.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband paid a visit to Spain in 1988.

There have been several other royal visits since, but more informal in nature.

Both families have friendship and blood ties.

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King Felipe in recent weeks celebrated a new Spanish law granting citizenship to Sephardic Jews or their descendants.

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© Casa de S.M. el Rey

Spain forces thousands of Jews to convert to Catholicism or face expulsion centuries ago.

Even many Jews who converted saw difficulties in escaping the Spanish Inquisition.

“I want to tell you that you are back in your own home, that you have returned, forever to your home,” said His Majesty during an an address at the Madrid Royal Palace.

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King Felipe hosted Jordan’s King Abdullah for meetings on security and economic issues last month.

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Queen Sofia, King Juan Carlos, Queen Rania, King Abdullah, King Felipe and Queen Letizia, in order from left to right, at El Pardo Palace. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

The two day work trip included a visit to Airbus Group SE defense facilities in the Madrid area.

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Beyond business, media outlets were looking out for Queen Letizia and Queen Rania’s outfits. Both are among the world’s best dressed royals.

King Felipe has been focused on addressing global terrorism and radical groups.

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Late last month he presided over a meeting of a foundation focused on a memorial center for victims of terror based in the Basque Country.

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