Members of the Spanish Royal Family were in Barcelona earlier this month to hand out the Princess of Girona Foundation Awards to leaders in different fields, like science and business.
The heir to the Spanish throne, Princess Leonor, is not only princess of Asturias but also of Girona. The Principality of Asturias historically belong to the heir to the Castilian throne while the Principality of Girona belonged to the heir of the Aragonese throne. Modern Spain includes both kingdoms.
The princess, who is 15 and still preparing for official duties, delivered remarks in Catalan because of her presence in the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. Girona is also an important Catalan city.
Catalan nationalist leaders have avoided members of the Royal Family since forming a coalition government earlier this year. They also skipped King Felipe’s visit for the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, including a lunch at Albéniz Palace.
Also in recent days, King Felipe and Queen Letizia held a ceremony at the Madrid Royal Palace for United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. His Majesty offered some words in Portuguese.
King Felipe and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will visit Barcelona together in the coming days, just weeks after the premier blocked His Majesty from visiting the city.
The government’s decision to prevent the King from visiting Barcelona recently set of a firestorm. Monarchists accused the government of giving in to Catalan nationalists and left-wing radicals.
Those left-wingers, in turn, accused the King of using his voice to lobby against Spain’s elected government. That’s because Don Felipe had expressed his desire to visit Barcelona for a juidicial promotions ceremony.
The government said it didn’t want King Felipe’s presence to coincide with a ruling against former Catalan President Quim Torra. Such a ruling did happen and a government spokeswoman — following days of back and forth — said the King respects Constitutional norms.
Some news outlets are describing the coming visit as an about face or course correction from the government.
King Felipe participated this weekend in a mass demonstration in Barcelona against terrorism.
The event, also attended by national and regional leaders, follows an attack in that city earlier this month.
Rescue workers and officials welcomed the King. Some anti-monarchy activists and pacifists, upset about Spain’s export of military weapons, protested his arrival.
The King has made it a point to visit Barcelona several times since the attack. His presence as a symbol of unity is particularly important amid pro-independence rumblings in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia were at the opera at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, where republican sentiment can often run deep.
Newspaper El Mundo posted a video, which shows how strong people can feel for an against the Spanish Royal Family.
People shouldn’t be surprised, however. During the transition to Democracy, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were often greeted with jeers and screams, especially in places like Catalonia and the Basque Country.
In recent days King Juan Carlos has met with Austrian Chancellor Werner Feymann and Guatemalan President José Mujica.