South Korean President Honors King Felipe

South Korean President Moon Jae-in honored King Felipe this week for helping promote national unity in Spain.

The Korean leader’s comments came amid pro-independence demonstrations in Catalonia.

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King Felipe and Queen Letizia arriving in South Korea. Spanish Royal Household

King Felipe and Queen Letizia traveled to South Korea for a state visit following their time in Japan for the emperor’s enthronement.

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Princess Delivers First Major Address

Leonor, the Princess of Asturias, delivered her first major public address last week as heir to the Spanish throne.

The princess recently read parts of the Spanish Constitution during an event, but last week’s remarks at the Princess of Asturias Awards were more notable.

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TOP: Queen Sofia, Princess Leonor, King Felipe, Queen Letizia and Infanta Sofia arrive at the awards ceremony. BOTTOM: Princess Leonor, King Felipe, Queen Letizia and Infanta Sofia at the head table.

Her Royal Highness said she was honored to hold the title of Princess of Asturias and spoke of her Asturian blood. Her mother, Queen Letizia, is from Asturias.

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King Felipe had tender words for his daughter, who will soon turn 13. He told her to have courage and valor.

His words came amid violent protests in Barcelona and Madrid by Catalan pro-independence activists.

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Princess Leonor hugging her sister Infanta Sofia.

The Princess of Asturias awards are given to artists, scholars and leaders around the world.

As heir to the Spanish throne, Princess Leonor has been going through a grooming process to prepare her for public life. Last week’s speech was a key part of that effort.

King Wants ‘Catalonia For All’

King Felipe and Queen Letizia went into what has become hostile territory late last week to hand out the Princess of Girona Awards.

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© Spanish Royal Household

Girona is a region is Spain, in Catalonia, with a relatively high rate of pro-independence sentiment.

Girona officials denied the King and Queen use of an arena there, citing repairs, and Catalan officials did not attend.

Still, the ceremony, organized by the Princess of Girona Foundation, appeared to be a success.

The King, during his remarks, called for a Catalonia “by all and for all.”

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© Spanish Royal Household

The King and Queen, the day after the awards, also met with participants of a program to encourage young professionals.

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© Spanish Royal Household

Demonstrators for and against the Crown meant increased security surrounding the royal visit.

The King’s daughter, as heir to the Spanish throne, is Princess of Asturias and Girona, among other titles.

The title dates back to when the prince or princes of Girona was the hair to the Crown of Aragon.

Barcelona Mayor Confronts King

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau confronted King Felipe during a dinner yesterday to welcome this year’s Mobile World Congress in the city.

The mayor refused to formally welcome the King because she sees him as supporting police action against last year’s illegal referendum on Catalan independence. She told him so this week.

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King Felipe with Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau to the right and Spanish Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaria to the left.

The King, according to sources and media outlets, responded that his role was to support the Spanish Constitution and the Catalan statute of autonomy.

 

Queen Calls For Better, Fairer Country

Queen Letizia today called for progress toward a better, fairer Spain during remarks in Valencia.

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© Casa de S.M. el Rey

The Queen represented the Crown during the Rey Jaime I award in the community of Lonja de los Mercaderes.

Her husband, King Felipe, is said to have cleared his schedule once again to attend to the crisis in Catalonia.

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© Casa de S.M. el Rey

The Queen praised the award recipients and said that with learning and innovation “we will continue growing as a country toward a better and more just Spain.”

 

King Celebrates Spain Amid Unrest

Members of the Spanish Royal Family presided over National Day festivities in Madrid this week amid the ongoing constitutional crisis.

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© Casa de S.M. el Rey

With the Catalan government threatening independence, attendance was up at the Fiesta Nacional military parade.

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© Casa de S.M. el Rey

The Ministry of Defense and other government organizers moved the event north to accommodate more spectators.

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© Casa de S.M. el Rey

The King held a brief reception at the Royal Palace after the parade. He has otherwise cleared his agenda to deal with the crisis.

The day was not a total success. One of the fighter jets that participated in the pageantry crashed and the pilot died.

King Slams Catalonia Defiance

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.”

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© Casa de S.M. el Rey

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.

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King Juan Carlos in 1981.

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.”