The Spanish Royal Family celebrated the Spanish national day called Fiesta Nacional de España today in Madrid. The holiday is celebrated annually on 12 October to commemorate Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on behalf of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492.
Their Majesties King Felipe and Queen Letizia were in attendance alongside their two daughters Their Royal Highnesses Princess Leonor, 11, and Infanta Sofía, 10. This is one of the few events each year that Their Royal Highnesses are a part of as they are both still quite young.
Members of the Spanish government, highest state authorities and the majority of political leaders were also in attendance today.
Upon the arrival of the King and Queen with their daughters, members of the crowd began to chant “Viva España” (Long Live Spain) and “Viva la Corona” (Long Live the Crown).
The Spanish royals presided over the solemn act of homage to the National Flag and the military parade at the Plaza de Lima. His Majesty, dressed in the uniform as Commander in Chief of the Air Force, took the salute at the Spanish flag. The military parade is in celebration of the Day of the Armed Forces which also occurs annually on 12 October.
After the tragic terror attack in Barcelona this year, the Spanish military paid an emotional tribute to those who lost their lives on the day. Representing those non-Spanish nationals who lost their lives were the ambassadors of the countries where the victims were from: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, United States, Germany, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom and Australia.
Almost 4,000 soldiers, and for the first time in 30 years the National Police, took part in the parade, and it has been seven years since the ceremony took place in the Paseo de la Castellana; this move was made to give more visibility for the people. Additionally, two large screens were put up so that others could follow it live in the Puerta del Sol and Plaza de Colón.
The King and Queen later offered the traditional reception in the Royal Palace of Madrid where various representatives of Spanish society were present. They greeted multiple members of the government, foreign dignitaries, presidents of autonomous regions, and people from all aspects of Spanish social life in the throne room before the reception officially began.
Casa Real said in a press release ahead of the holiday, “The commemoration of the National Festival aims to solemnly recall moments of collective history that are part of the common historical, cultural and social heritage, assumed as such by the vast majority of citizens.”
A royal decree first established the holiday as Día de la Hispanidad on 27 November 1981, but the name was changed on 7 October 1987 to Fiesta Nacional to be held annually on the 12 of October.
This was the first event for Their Majesties in October and the first since King Felipe gave a speech to the Spanish people on 3 October regarding the Catalonian crisis in which he criticised Catalonian separatists and vowed “to defend the unity” of Spain.