Members of the Spanish Royal Family were in Barcelona earlier this month to hand out the Princess of Girona Foundation Awards to leaders in different fields, like science and business.
The heir to the Spanish throne, Princess Leonor, is not only princess of Asturias but also of Girona. The Principality of Asturias historically belong to the heir to the Castilian throne while the Principality of Girona belonged to the heir of the Aragonese throne. Modern Spain includes both kingdoms.
The princess, who is 15 and still preparing for official duties, delivered remarks in Catalan because of her presence in the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. Girona is also an important Catalan city.
Catalan nationalist leaders have avoided members of the Royal Family since forming a coalition government earlier this year. They also skipped King Felipe’s visit for the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, including a lunch at Albéniz Palace.
Also in recent days, King Felipe and Queen Letizia held a ceremony at the Madrid Royal Palace for United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. His Majesty offered some words in Portuguese.
King Felipe last week marked the 40th anniversary of the failed coup that almost derailed Spain’s nascent Democracy in 1981.
His Majesty presided over a small ceremony at the Congress of Deputies with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and other top officials.
King Felipe recalled his father, King Juan Carlos, being instrumental in putting down the coup. He called military leaders and, after delays, was able to make a televised address to call for respecting the new constitution.
The coup involved a Civil Guard officer, Antono Tejero, storming the Congress with a small crew and holding lawmakers hostage. Plotters also took over state television and were poised to begin taking over the country.
King Felipe was a child when the events happened. King Juan Carlos made sure he was present during some of the toughest moments so the then-heir would learn from the developments.
King Felipe and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will visit Barcelona together in the coming days, just weeks after the premier blocked His Majesty from visiting the city.
The government’s decision to prevent the King from visiting Barcelona recently set of a firestorm. Monarchists accused the government of giving in to Catalan nationalists and left-wing radicals.
Those left-wingers, in turn, accused the King of using his voice to lobby against Spain’s elected government. That’s because Don Felipe had expressed his desire to visit Barcelona for a juidicial promotions ceremony.
The government said it didn’t want King Felipe’s presence to coincide with a ruling against former Catalan President Quim Torra. Such a ruling did happen and a government spokeswoman — following days of back and forth — said the King respects Constitutional norms.
Some news outlets are describing the coming visit as an about face or course correction from the government.
King Juan Carlos may have traveled to Abu Dhabi after announcing his decision to leave Spain last week amid a corruption investigation.
Sources initially said Don Juan Carlos, King Felipe’s father, may have traveled to the Dominican Republic to stay at Casa de Campo resort, which is owned by friends of the former head-of-state.
But more recent reports, including a picture, suggest King Felipe may be in Abu Dhabi. He is close with royals from around the Middle East.
King Juan Carlos has not been indicted and was immune from prosecution during his time as monarch. But authorities in Spain and Switzerland are looking into tens of millions of dollars that may have been mishandled.