Yesterday, Girona City Council in Catalonia, Spain, declared His Majesty King Felipe VI as a persona non grata due to his criticism of the independence referendum held in the region on 1 October.
The King was not alone in being declared a persona non grata as Enric Millo, the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia, was as well.
At the beginning of the month, the Catalonian region held an independence referendum with a 90% turnout of the 2.2 million citizens. However, the Spanish government in Madrid called the vote illegal, and violent clashes took place throughout the area on the day of the vote.
The Spanish government invoked Article 155 of Spain’s constitution not long after, which can suspend the autonomy of Catalonia. Additionally, the government of Catalonia was suspended, and the authorities in Madrid have ordered a snap election for the regional parliament. These are moves that are supported by King Felipe.
His Majesty gave a rare televised speech two days after the referendum where he criticised Catalonian separatists and vowed: “to defend the unity of Spain.” He also called their behaviour irresponsible and that they had broken the law with their vote. The vote ordered by the separatists, he criticised, was a “total disregard for democracy.”
After this speech, the Catalan party Popular Unity Candidacy proposed that the authorities in Barcelona declare the King and all members of the Spanish Royal Family as personae non-gratae. The Barcelona City Council declined.
Oriol Junqueras, the Vice President of Catalonia, said that the actions of the Spanish federal government had given the region “no other option” but to go ahead with declaring their independence. He told the Associated Press that the independence coalition is “going to work toward building a republic because we understand that there is a democratic mandate to establish such a republic.”