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.”
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.
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.”
Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés alluded to the military’s role amid pro-independence rumblings in Catalonia, saying the armed forces will not respond to provocations and will quietly perform their duty.
The comments are an allusion to concerns that the military may want to violate Democrats institutions and get involved in any political crisis, or prevent secession.
The remarks were part of the “Pascua Militar,” an annual event at the Royal Palace in Madrid where the Royal Family and Spain’s leadership recognize military accomplishments and talk about priorities.
King Juan Carlos thanked members of the armed forces for their work at home, including helping with recent fires, and abroad, including service in Afghanistan. He said the military was also part of improving the country’s economy.
Nationalist leaders of the small Catalonian town of Berga, near the Franch border, have declared King Juan Carlos unwelcome in their community, the Associated Press is reporting. Council members passed a resolution to that effect in recent days.
Global outlets are linking the news to the King’s recent troubles. However, it is not uncommon for separatists or anti-monarchist groups to do such things. Last year, for example, Basque nationalists removed Don Juan Carlos’ portrait from the San Sebastian council chambers.
While the King is largely responsible for helping communities like Catalonia and the Basque Country regain their autonomy, many people there are still bitter about repression during Franco’s regime.
Meanwhile, leaks and rumors continue in the corruption scandal of Iñaki Urdangarín, the Duke of Palma de Mallorca. El Pais is reporting that ex-partner Diego Torres is gearing up to air the King’s connections to the Duke’s business dealings, which are under the microscope.
Torres’ attorney is denying that his client is asking for money in exchange for silence. The Royal Household appears confident that, however the Duke comes out of the investigation, nobody else in the family will be tied to the situation.
El Pais also profiled Queen Sofia’s sister, Irene of Greece and Denmark, in advance of her upcoming 70th birthday. Princess Irene is often known for her eccentric and down-to-earth attitude.