Catalan, Basque Presidents Snub King

King Felipe met with presidents of Spain’s autonomous communities during a conference in La Rioja Friday.

His Majesty was on hand for the meeting between regional and national officials, including Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

King Felipe with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, to his right, and the leaders of Spain’s autonomous communities. Spanish Royal Household

The presidents of the Basque Country and Catalonia, both members of anti-monarchist, nationalist parties, did not attend the meeting, despite pleas from the prime minister.

Catalan President Quim Torra has long been at odds with the central government in Madrid. And Basque leader Iñigo Urkullu said the central government was not complying with certain promises.

King Calls For Unity In Galicia Visit

King Felipe called for “unity and fraternity” during a visit to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia today.

Their Majesties visited the city for the Feast of St. James and made an offering to the country’s patron saint.


Spanish Royal Household

Members of the Spanish Royal Family generally visit Santiago during the Feast of St. James. The King and Queen are also on a tour of the country following the pandemic lockdown.

King, Queen Visit Catalonia

King Felipe and Queen Letizia visited Catalonia last week on their ongoing countrywide tour.

A trip to Catalonia — in this case to a monastery in Tarragona — is notable because of the years-long political instability there. The region has also seen a spike in COVID-19 cases.


Pro-independence protesters were near the site but police kept them away from the King and Queen.

Royals Hold Palace Ceremony For Victims

The Spanish Royal Family held a ceremony at the Madrid Royal Palace grounds to honor victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

Attending last week in the shadow of Almudena Cathedral were King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Princess Letizia and Infanta Sofia.


Spanish Royal Household

The ceremony of state was one of several from Spain’s royals to honor the pandemic’s victims.

King, Queen Launch Whirlwind Nationwide Tour

King Felipe and Queen Letizia have been crisscrossing Spain for the past several week during a delicate time for the country and the Royal Family.

Their Majesties worked to be active during the pandemic lockdown and have been visible during the reopening, including visiting several museums and cultural attractions.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia at the Prado Museum in Madrid to launch the Spain for Sure tourism campaign in June. Spanish Royal Household

They have also visited beaches and walked through numerous communities. Their visits have been informal and meant to connect them with regular people.

The King and Queen in the Canary Islands. Spanish Royal Household

Spaniards, fed up with corruption, the Catalan crisis, recession and scandal, have taken out their frustrations on the governing class — including the Monarchy. Despite the Royal Family’s efforts, many people see them as not having done enough to fight COVID-19.

The King and Queen in Aragon. Spanish Royal Household

Then there’s King Juan Carlos, who is embroiled in a financial scandal related to $100 million gift from the Saudis, some of which may have ended up in the hands of a former lover.

King Felipe has disconnected himself from his father financially and discussions are ongoing about the elder monarch’s status within the Royal Family.


Spanish Princesses Thank COVID-19 Workers

Spain’s Princess Leonor, the heir to the throne, and Infanta Sofia took to social media last month to thank medical workers and other professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

The princesses recorded a video posted on YouTube and on Twitter, part of the Royal Household’s effort to be visible and active during the ongoing lockdown.

Leonor, the Princess of Asturias, and her sister also recorded themselves reading a section of Spanish literary masterpiece Don Quixote. Several personalities participated to mark World Book Day.

Queen Welcomes Michelle Obama

Queen Letizia welcomed U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama to Madrid last week.

Mrs. Obama was on a tour of several countries to promote her Let Girls Learn initiative.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey

Queen Letizia, who has met Mrs. Obama several times before, spoke at the event, and then welcomed the first lady at the Zarzuela Palace complex.

It is notable that Queen Letizia did not take Mrs.Obama to the more formal areas of the sprawling complex.


Instead, the two walked the gardens of the secluded residence where the Queen and King Felipe live.

The Obamas are scheduled to visit Spain in the coming weeks.


Queen Letizia Breaks With Tradition, Again

Queen Letizia broke with Spanish Royal Family tradition during a flag ceremony for the Civil Guard in the Basque Country last week.

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

Her Majesty decided against wearing a more formal, black dress and mantilla on her hair as queens have done for such ceremonies, and as Queen Sofia did in the picture below.

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

Queen Letizia, instead, wore the same dress she wore for her proclamation.

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

Even though ardent monarchists have not been fond of the breaks in tradition, many Spaniards and media outlets welcome the changes.

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

Recently she and King Felipe dressed down to attend a Madrid scientific monologue contest, above, and the King celebrated Spanish victory in a basketball tournament, below.

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

Princess Letizia Celebrates Anniversary

Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia last week celebrated their ten year anniversary.

The Royal Household released pictures of the couple getting their daughters — Infanta Leonor and Infanta Sofia — getting ready for school.

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

The Royal Household also released a series of statistics about Their Royal Highnessess as Prince and Princess of Asturias, and heirs to the Spanish throne.

The Prince and Princess of Asturias on a museum visit in Toledo. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
The Prince and Princess of Asturias on a museum visit in Toledo.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

The couple has made more than 70 foreign trips to 38 countries. They have hosted more than 1,500 official events together, with Princess Letizia hosting 190 by herself.

The Prince and Princess have also received more than 7,000 people together during audiences.


All The King’s Palaces

King Juan Carlos and his family have a number of Royal Palaces, sites and homes at their disposition.

In practice, however, they only use a fraction of them on a regular basis, and mostly for official occasions. Below is a non-exhaustive list:

Photo by Manuel Quinones.
Photo by Manuel Quinones.

The Madrid Royal Palace, above, is the King’s official residence and site for the most important state gatherings.

It has a large dining room, numerous works of art, an armory with historic weapons belonging to members of the Royal Family, and the official Throne Room.

Royal Site of San Lorenzo del Escorial.

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo del Escorial is a large palace and monastery in the Madrid region, which includes a tapestry museum, a library, a basilica and the official burial place for members of the Spanish Royal Family.

On the grounds is a small house called La Casita del Principe for the Prince of Asturias, the heir to the Spanish throne.

Nearby is the Valley of the Fallen, resting place for former Dictator Francisco Franco.

Prince Felipe and his wife Princess Letizia, however, currently live in a newly built small palace often called the Prince’s Pavilion, pictured below.


The Prince’s house is a short drive from Zarzuela Palace, where King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia have lived for several decades.

Former Franco rehabilitated Zarzuela, an old royal hunting lodge, for the young couple. They moved in in shortly after their wedding in Athens, when their future as heirs to the Spanish throne was still uncertain.

Welcoming guests at Zarzuela Palace.

The King and other members of the Royal Family often receive informal visits at Zarzuela, which is equipped with communications capabilities and contains Royal Household offices in support of the Monarch as the Head of State.

The King’s dispatch is at Zarzuela with his official Royal Standard flying above. Queen Sofia’s sister, Princess Irene of Greece, also lives on the site.


The Zarzuela Palace, also outside of central Madrid, is in the grounds of El Pardo Palace, pictured above. Franco used to live at El Pardo, which now includes reception rooms and apartments for guests.

Most Royal Palaces and sites, which include monasteries and gardens, are owned by the state and run by Patrimonio Nacional or National Heritage.

Also in the Madrid region, but to the south, is the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, pictured below.


Several Royal sites are located in the Segovia area, north of Madrid.


The Gardens of La Granja de San Idelfonso, above, extend more then 1,000 acres. The Riofrio Palace, below, was built for Queen Elisabeth Farnese in the 1700’s but has generally been barely used.


Also in Segovia is the Alcazar de Segovia, which was used by Queen Isabella of Castile. It is run by a patronage and one of several castles that were once royal homes are now museums.


The King’s official residence in Barcelona is owned by the local government. The same goes for the Royal Family’s summer residence in the Balearic Islands, Marivent Palace in Palma de Mallorca.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama meeting with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at Marivent Palace. © Agencia EFE
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama meeting with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at Marivent Palace.
© Agencia EFE

However, they also use another site down the coast in Palma run by Patrimonio Nacional. Almudaina Palace, below, was once an Arab fort.


Then there’s the Royal Residence at La Mareta in the Canary Islands. It was a gift of King Hussein of Jordan to King Juan Carlos.