King Felipe and Queen Letizia today left Madrid for their official visit to Cuba to celebrate Havana’s 500th anniversary.
Their Majesties boarded their jet after a departure ceremony at the Terminal of State at Barajas Airport. Such ceremonies are standard for official visits abroad.
Media outlets are describing the trip as historic and a sign of closer relations between the world and Cuba.
However, news that Their Majesties will not meet with dissidents has generated concern among human rights advocates.
Spain and its companies have long had a presence in Cuba. King Juan Carlos, King Felipe’s father, has been to Cuba twice in recent years, including for former leader Fidel Castro’s funeral.
Spain’s Royal Family was in Barcelona this week for public events despite strong protests from Catalan separatists.
King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia were in the city to hand out the Princess of Girona Awards.
The King suggested his very presence in the city would send a message. He said intolerance and violence had no place in Catalonia.
The King’s daughter, Princess Leonor, who is Princess of Girona, said she was proud to hold the title. She spoke at length in Catalan.
Pro-independence leaders tried to convince electoral authorities to keep the Royal Family away because of the upcoming national voting. They accuse the King of not being an impartial broker.
Several police forces have converged in Barcelona for the royal visit and the upcoming elections.
As heir to the Spanish throne, Princess Leonor holds several titles, including Princess of Asturias and of Girona.