The Kings traveled to Catalonia yesterday to attend an official ceremony – the delivery of the Cervantes Prize, which is the largest of Spanish letters – and, for the first time in a democracy, they did so incognito. Both Moncloa and Zarzuela previously hid the visit and did not make it public until Don Felipe and Doña Letizia were back in Madrid.
It so happens that the Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, initially planned to accompany the King on this trip to Catalonia, where the two were going to visit the Seat plant in Martorell together. However, Sánchez had to suspend the trip, being forced to quarantine, for having maintained contact with Emmanuel Macron -which tested positive for Covid-, and Moncloa asked Seat to postpone this visit.
Also, the trip that Don Felipe and Doña Letizia made yesterday to Barcelona is the first to Catalonia after the Government managed to carry out its project of the General State Budget with the support of ERC, after a negotiation in which the separatists asked that the King’s visits to Catalonia have the profile lowest possible. And the truth is that yesterday’s had it.
The presence of the Kings in Barcelona also coincided with the dissolution of the Parliament of Catalonia, at the end of yesterday the deadline to invest as president of the Generalitat a substitute of Quim Torra. After the two months had elapsed, the regional elections were automatically called for next February 14.
The peculiar circumstances in which this visit of the Kings to Catalonia took place have fueled the controversy about the presence of the Crown in this Autonomous Community, three months after the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, prohibited Don Felipe from traveling to the Ciudad Condal to deliver the dispatches to the new class of judges.
The reason for the movement of the Kings was to deliver the Cervantes Prize to the poet before the end of the year Joan Margarit, since the traditional ceremony, which is held on April 23 in the Auditorium of the University of Alcalá de Henares, had to be suspended last spring as a result of the pandemic. However, the delivery of the Cervantes prize went into the background, being overshadowed by the strange circumstances, not attributable to the pandemic, in which the trip of the Kings took place.
The truth is that this visit was not known until just before two in the afternoon yesterday, when La Zarzuela informed the media that the Kings haveThey had been displaced in the morning “privately” to Barcelona. The announcement surprised the press, because last Friday the Casa del Rey had announced that this week there would be no “official activities with news coverage”.
But the most surprising thing was that Zarzuela attributed “Private character” to an act to which the Kings attended accompanied by a minister of the day, the head of Culture, Jose Manuel Rodriguez Uribes; which was held at the Albéniz Palace, which is the official residence of the Kings during their stays in Barcelona, and whose objective was to present the most important prize in Spanish letters, the Cervantes, granted by the Government.
Precisely, the delivery of this award in Catalonia to a Catalan poet could have become an event of great institutional and cultural interest at a time when Spanish is going to cease to be a vehicular language in this Autonomous Community. But this fact went practically unnoticed.
As La Zarzuela added, in his note to the media, the delivery of the Cervantes award took place “during a brief ceremony of an intimate and family nature”, and during the act, the poet, who was accompanied by his wife , children and grandchildren, he read two poems in Spanish and Catalan.
Shortly after announcing the visit of the Kings, Zarzuela provided photographs and videos of the event, as he usually does with any official activity of the Royal family and offered more information on the website of the Casa del Rey, which only reports on official acts, not private ones. Therefore, the visit “of a private nature” was also treated as an official act by the Head of State.
The Minister of Culture also recounted the visit on his Twitter account: «I have accompanied the Kings to Barcelona, to present Joan Margarit with the Cervantes prize. It was an endearing and very emotional act. “
The video distributed by Zarzuela showed the Kings arriving in Albéniz, where they were received by Margarit, who could not hide her joy. “We would give each other a big hug, but it has to be at a distance,” Don Felipe told the 82-year-old poet. “First of all,” Margarit commented, “thanks for the deference … I don’t know if I deserve it, but I’m delighted.”
“I have the enormous honor of giving you this award, which means a lot, a lot of things … We can’t make speeches here, but hey,” added the King at the time of the delivery of the sculpture and the medal accrediting the most important award of Spanish letters, which was awarded in recognition of his work, both in Catalan and Spanish, its innovative language and the cultural plurality it represents.
Curiously, the most peculiar visit of the Kings has occurred under the Government of Pedro Sánchez, a president who has always defended the idea of ”normalizing” the presence of the Crown in Catalonia. The last time Don Felipe traveled to the Catalan capital was on October 9, when he attended the Barcelona New Economy Week (Bnew), an event in which he was accompanied by Sánchez.
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