King Felipe once again criticized ongoing secessionist tensions in the autonomous region of Catalonia.
Last night the King, speaking during the Princess of Asturias awards ceremony in the Spanish Principality of Asturias, said his nation would respond to the pro-independence threat within the constitution.
Kind Felipe gave one of the awards to European Union leaders and said Spaniards were proud of their commitment to Europe and Democracy.
His Majesty said Catalonia would continue being an essential part of Spain into the 21st Century.
This morning the Spanish government took steps to take over parts of Catalan autonomy and call new elections within six months.
The Catalan leadership recently held an illegal pro-independence referendum and came close to seceding.
The vast majority of people who voted agreed with independence, but fewer than half of eligible voters went to the polls.
The Princess of Asturias is the King and Queen’s daughter, and heir to the Spanish throne. She was not at the ceremonies, which typically stretch over three days.
The Queen is due in Geneva in the coming days for a meeting at the World Health Organization.
King Felipe this evening delivered a rare and fiery speech against the Catalan government’s move toward independence from Spain.
The King, who spoke from Zarzuela Palace, called this week’s illegal pro-independence referendum and other developments a threat to “national sovereignty.”
Catalan leaders have been pushing for a legal referendum for years, something the central government has rejected, fearing many people will use the occasion to cast a protest vote over economic and other grievances.
The Catalan leadership is now threatening to declare independence even though polls show most Catalans don’t support the move.
Don Felipe is calling their actions “unacceptable disloyalty,” and against Democracy and the rule of law, reiterating constitutional protections and Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy.
The King’s speech is almost unprecedented. His father, King Juan Carlos, delivered major messages during his abdication and during an attempted coup in the early 1980’s.
Left wing and pro-independence parties slammed the speech for not focusing enough on dialogue. The King, however, has pressed for dialogue numerous times before.
“These moments are hard but we will overcome,” said the King, stressing Catalonia would continue being Spanish.
He said the Crown would continue standing by Democracy and the Constitution, and the “unity and permanence of Spain.”