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.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia immediately deployed this week to the Santiago de Compostela area in the Galicia region to comfort victims of the high speed train derailment, which killed dozens of people.
Their Majesties, especially the Queen, are known for their ability to connect with and comfort people in mourning.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia deployed on Friday to University Hospital in Santiago, one of the facilities where the injured were taken.
They also met with area residents and rescue workers during their visit.
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.