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.
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.
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.
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.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia were on a whirlwind official trip to the U.S. earlier this week.
Their Royal Highnesses visited sites in California and then Florida, which included meetings with American politicians, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia also visited cultural sites, met with business leaders, spoke with U.S.-based Spaniards and toured news outlets, including the Los Ageles Times and Univision in Miami.
Not surprisingly, the heirs to the Spanish throne highlighted the importance of Hispanic culture to the U.S.
Prince Felipe arrived in Buenos Aires this week to help boost Madrid’s chances of becoming the Olympic host city for 2020.
His Royal Highness, the Prince of Asturias, is the honorary head of Madrid’s delegation, has been assisting rehearsals and will be on hand for the city’s presentation over the weekend before the International Olympic Committee.
Princess Letizia will join her husband in Argentina later this week, the Royal Household said.
Meanwhile, King Juan Carlos today met with Bolivian President Evo Morales at Zarzuela Palace.
Gossip about the Royal Family continues amid the ongoing corruption investigation surrounding the Duke of Palma, the King’s son-in-law.
Media outlets reported this week that Don Juan Carlos loaned his daughter, Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma, more than 1 million euros to buy a mansion in Barcelona.
Price Naruhito, the heir to the Japanese Imperial Throne, met with Prince Felipe of Asturias today at El Pardo Palace in Madrid for a visit to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Hispano-Japanese relations.
Members of the Spanish Royal Family and members of the Japanese Imperial Family have traveled to each other’s country over the years.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia went on a state visit to Japan in 2008, for example. And Prince Naruhito went to Barcelona for the Olympics and to Madrid for Prince Felipe’s wedding to Princess Letizia in 2004.
Over the weekend Prince Felipe was in Paris to watch Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal win the French Open.
Members of the Royal Family also hosted a lunch for Prince Naruhito and a dinner at the Royal Palace. They also attended a gala at the Royal Theater.