King Felipe last week marked the 40th anniversary of the failed coup that almost derailed Spain’s nascent Democracy in 1981.
His Majesty presided over a small ceremony at the Congress of Deputies with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and other top officials.
King Felipe recalled his father, King Juan Carlos, being instrumental in putting down the coup. He called military leaders and, after delays, was able to make a televised address to call for respecting the new constitution.
The coup involved a Civil Guard officer, Antono Tejero, storming the Congress with a small crew and holding lawmakers hostage. Plotters also took over state television and were poised to begin taking over the country.
King Felipe was a child when the events happened. King Juan Carlos made sure he was present during some of the toughest moments so the then-heir would learn from the developments.
Last week’s arrest of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel has unleashed days of violent protests in Barcelona and other areas, particularly in Catalonia.
Catalan police arrested Hasel at the University of Lleida, where he was holed up with his supporters. Hasel had until February 12 to turn himself in after the Spanish Supreme Court upheld a 2018 conviction against the rapper of supporting terrorism and injuries against the Crown.
Spain’s penal code includes provisions to punish people who insult the the King or his family. The law is not meant to silence criticism of the Crown and prosecutions are rare.
The Spanish Royal Family released this year’s Christmas cards this week.
King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia signed one card featuring the princess and the infanta posing in the community of Somao in the Principality of Asturias.
The Princess of Asturias Foundation picks a community to celebrate every year in concert with the Princess of Asturias Awards. Somao won this year.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia released a separate card, featuring a painting of the Nativity. They usually feature a piece of art with a Chrismas theme in their card.
The Royal Family used to release a card with multuple relatives but stopped doing so after they found it hard to get everyone together. Controversies and King Juan Carlos’ abdication have also reduced the number of people considered members of the core Royal Family.
King Juan Carlos, King Felipe’s father and Spain’s former head of state, has revealed previously-hidden earnings to tax authorities in an effort to avoid prosecution, news outlets have reported in recent days.
That does not mean, however, that the former monarch is welcome to return to the country from an unofficial exile, despite rumblings in that direction.
Don Juan Carlos, who left Spain for the Middle East earlier this year amid scandal, is declaring more than 500,000 euros in expenses from money donated by a Mexican businessman and friend.
Separately, Swiss authorities have been investigating $100 million the Saudi Royal Family is said to have gifted the King. Much of the money, media outlets report, ended up in the hands of a former mistress, Corinna Larsen, who has generated controversy for years.
Spanish authorities have been probing whether the money was a kickback for securing a high speed rail development contract between the Saudis and Spanish firms. Media outlets say the King’s attorneys believe that case will be closed because of lack of evidence.
Spanish tax authorities are saying King Juan Carlos does not have accounts abroad, news outlets reported. He is said to be addressing financial issues following his abdication, where he lost his legal immunity.
Media outlets reported the King’s desire to return and spend Christma with family. The Royal Household and the government have said that’s premature.
The Socialist-led government has been facing pressure from both the right and left on the issue. Progressives in coalition partner Podemos have been attacking the monarchy. And while Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told the press the Crown was not in danger, monarchists slammed him for not queting Podemos.
King Juan Carlos helped transition Spain from dictatorship to democracy, but even his supporters agree he erred in his financial dealings. His relationship with Larsen contributed to his abdication.