King Felipe VI of Spain has delivered an extraordinary address to the nation, in which he criticises Catalonian separatists and vows “to defend the unity” of Spain.
Making a rare televised speech, His Majesty said that Catalonia’s government is “seeking to proclaim independence, breaching the Constitution and its own regional charter.”
He said that Catalonian separatists had created division in the region, adding “their behaviour is irresponsible.”
The King, who is supposed to remain politically impartial on all matters claimed that the law had been broken by separatists with “total disregard for democracy.”
His Majesty called on Spanish institutions to protect the rule of law, saying that everybody can express an opinion, but they must do so following the law.
King Felipe finished off his speech by saying: “To all Catalonians concerned with this aggression against Spanish democracy, my message is clear – you are not alone.
“We believe in our country, and we are proud of our democracy which has given us freedom and prosperity.”
“I am committed to defending the unity of Spain.”
His Majesty’s speech comes after the referendum in Catalonia which saw millions of voters take to the ballot box to vote over whether the province should become independent of Spain.
The Catalonian government has said that over 90% of votes cast were in favour of independence, adding that the region could declare independence within 48 hours of the vote.
The Spanish government are attempting to stop any breakaway, and used police force to try and shut down any attempts to vote on Sunday, in what was described by the central government as an ‘illegal referendum.’
Catalan president, Carles Puigdemon, has maintained that the referendum is “valid and binding.”
The province’s government said that 893 civilians were injured on polling day, with more than 750,000 votes not being able to be counted because polling stations were closed by police and ballot boxes were confiscated.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that Catalans had been fooled into taking part in an ‘illegal’ vote which the Spanish constitutional court banned.