King Confronts Secessionist Movement

King Felipe once again spoke out against the separatist movement in Catalonia late last month.

The King, while not addressing the issue directly, let himself be understood during remarks at the Princess of Girona Foundation awards.

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Catalan President Carles Puigdemont greets King Felipe. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

The King, speaking to an audience that included Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who favors a referendum on independence, expressed “sincere and firm commitment” to Girona and Catalonia.

The King also called on the audience to recall actions and values that “have made Catalonia great” and, as a result, “all of Spain.”

The King and the Madrid government have repeatedly stressed territorial unity, coexistence and the rule of law.

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King Felipe and Queen Letizia during the ceremony. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

As heir to the throne, King Felipe’s young daughter, Princess Leonor, holds the title of Princess of Asturias.

She also holds several other similar titles based on the different historical kingdoms that now make up Spain.

The Prince or Princess of Girona title went to heirs of the Aragonese throne, which included Catalonia.

The Girona region, north of Barcelona near the French border, is known for above average pro-independence sentiments.

Mini ‘scandal’

A magazine article about Princess Leonor, 11, caused a stir in recent days and gave birth to numerous online memes.

In trying to tell people about the Princess, the piece mentioned her liking Japanese film director Kurosawa.

Many Spaniards felt the Royal Household was trying to oversell the Princess, or that her tastes were too pretentious, particularly for her age.

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King: “The Constitution Will Prevail”

King Felipe today made his most direct comments against independence efforts in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia.

“Today I want to transmit a message of serenity and confidence,” said His Majesty during an event in Madrid.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

In recent days King Felipe had cleared parts of his schedule to deal with developments in the divided Catalan Parliament. He had said, “These are difficult days.”

King Felipe and Queen Letzia at the Royal Site of San Lorenzo Del Escorial, the royal pantheon, for the funeral of Infante Don Carlos de Borbón-Dos Sicilias. © Casa de S.M. el Rey
King Felipe and Queen Letzia at the Royal Site of San Lorenzo Del Escorial, the royal pantheon, for the funeral of Infante Don Carlos de Borbón-Dos Sicilias. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

Today Don Felipe added, “The Constitution will prevail. Let nobody doubt that. Our Constitutional order and the Constitutional principles that dictate our coexistence will remain fully in place.”

Queen Letizia at a flag ceremony. © Casa de S.M. el Rey
Queen Letizia at a flag ceremony. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

The King said, “The Constitutional Spain of our days belongs to all of us, to the Spanish public. On them our national sovereignty rests.”

King Stands Against Spanish Rupture

King Felipe has strengthened his calls for Spanish unity amid ongoing talks in region of Catalonia about secession.

Pro-independence candidates recently won elections to the Catalan Parliament, but failed to get a majority of overall votes.

His Majesty addressed the issue indirectly during remarks at events surrounding the prestigious Princess of Asturias awards — formerly knows at the Prince of Asturias Awards.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
King Felipe, Queen Letizia and Queen Sofia arrive at the awards ceremony. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

The King said, “Let us separate ourselves from everything that pretends to differentiate or reject one another.”

Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola was one of the award recipients at the Campoamor Theater in Oviedo, Asturias.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
King Felipe and Queen Letizia walk to their place at the table of honor. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

This week the King and Queen watched as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also indirectly rejection secessionist sentiments during a Madrid Royal Palace gathering.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was in Madrid to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of Spain joining the international body.

King Touts Spanish Grand Pact Amid Catalan Troubles

King Felipe touted Spain’s constitutional “grand pact” of national unity amid separatist sentiments in Catalonia.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

Don Felipe said the Spanish constitution is a “grand pact that defends, preserves and embraces the rights and liberties of citizens.”

The King also said the 1978 document “defends the communities of Spain in the exercise of its diverse cultures and traditions, languages and institutions, and consecrates the liberty, justice, equality and political pluralism as essential values of our coexistence.”

His Majesty also spoke about Spain’s commitment to European integration and said he felt “profoundly European.”

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

King Felipe also met with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who have expressed solidarity with a united Spain and suggested opposition to Catalan nationalism.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

Several anti-monarchist European Parliament members held signs and republican flags during His Majesty’s speech.

King Meets With Separatist Leader

Last week King Felipe met with Catalan President Artur Mas, an encounter that received wide media attention because of its political repercussions.

Mas is helping lead a movement to secede from Spain following the Autonomous Community’s elections later this year.

The King, on the other hand, is seen as a symbol of Spanish unity, historical continuity and geographic integrity.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

Mas did not comment after or before his meeting, according to media outlets, only to say that he went with the spirit of peace.

The Royal Household tried to describe the meeting as one of many the King was having with leaders from different Spanish localities.

King Felipe Stresses International Unity Amid Catalan Separatism

King Felipe highlighted Spain’s role in the international arena and called for unity amid strong divisions at home, particularly from Catalan separatism.

Don Felipe, speaking at the United Nations last week, noted the soon to be celebrated 40-year anniversary of the Spanish transition.

The King said the transition “allowed us to pass from a dictatorship to a politics of freedom and human rights, marked by a commitment to historic reconciliation and a spirit of coexistence.”

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

King Felipe, marking the first address to the General Assembly of his young reign, said Spain had a “profound sense of equality, and rejects fanaticism, violence, intolerance and loves piece.”

Even though the King’s speech as international in nature, it’s hard for observers not to attempt ties to the current controversy in Spain.

The Spanish government either helps write or approves His Majesty’s messages. It’s the same government calling for unity amid separatism, and rejecting the Catalan Government’s planned referendum on statehood or independence.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
Queen Letizia sits with Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who is originally from Argentina. The two have seemed to have developed a friendship. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Noting a version of Pablo Picasso’s famous painting Guernica, which shows the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, which was particularly harsh on Catalonia and is seen as the true beginning on World War II, King Felipe called for “more unity against fanaticism, intolerance and barbarism.”

He called for “more unity to fight poverty, misery and marginalization. More unity for education and health care for all. And more unity to defend with resolve the dignity of all human beings.”

King Felipe and Queen Letizia give U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a dedicated picture from their proclamation. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
King Felipe and Queen Letizia give U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a dedicated picture from their proclamation.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Their Majesties have several more trips planned, including to Catalonia and abroad to countries including Mexico.

Royals Woo Catalonia (Updated)

Amid pro-independence rumblings in the Spanish Autonomous Community of Catalonia, Prince Felipe of Asturias over the weekend presided over a dinner with business and regional leaders at Albéniz Palace in Barcelona, the King’s official residence in the city.

© Casa de S.M. el rey / Borja Fotógrafos
At Albéniz Palace, royal residence owned by the Catalan government.
© Casa de S.M. el rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Prince Felipe, who was in town for the eve of the 2014 Mobile World Congress, alluded to Catalonia’s importance within Spain.

He spoke of Barcelona as the “beloved and dynamic capital of Catalonia,” and made remarks in Spanish, English and Catalan.

© Casa de S.M. el rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el rey / Borja Fotógrafos

His Royal Highness also met with Catalan President Artur Mas, who is calling for a referendum on independence and, during his own remarks, highlighted Catalonia’s own strengths.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

On Monday Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia walked the convention floor. One of their meetings was with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.

Things got tougher later in the week when a Catalan businessman refused to shake the Prince’s hand.

Don Felipe pressed the issue with Alex Fenoll, who kept refusing. A video of the incident has gone viral.

Media reports also indicate that other business leaders in Catalonia expressed concerns about the lack of dialogue between Barcelona and Madrid during what has become a political stalemate.

Other Agenda Items

Among numerous royal agenda items in recent weeks, today Queen Sofia visited the Spanish National Ballet and the National Dance Company. Her Majesty is known for her attachment to classical arts.

Earlier this month King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were in Portugal meeting with Portuguese and Italian leaders in Lisbon to promote regional economic development.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, su esposa, Maria Alves da Silva, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and their wives. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, and their wives.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos