King Felipe VI of Spain has praised his father, King Juan Carlos, in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the attempted coup which saw army officers hold politicians hostage in parliament.
Juan Carlos is widely credited with ensuring the coup attempt failed. As the officers took control of parliament on February 23rd 1981, Juan Carlos spoke on television, denouncing the move. It came to an end hours later.
At a short ceremony, held at the same building four decades on, Spain’s current monarch spoke of his predecessor’s famous intervention. King Felipe said his father had ” assumed as Head of State his responsibility and his commitment to the Constitution”, adding ”his firmness and authority were decisive for the defense and triumph of democracy.”
Ahead of the ceremony, which took place in the Hall of Lost Steps in Congress, some commentators had questioned whether King Juan Carlos would even be mentioned at the event which was attended by just a handful of politicians owing to the coronavirus restrictions. Juan Carlos himself is in Abu Dhabi following his decision to go into self imposed exile in 2020 following continuing allegations of financial impropriety.
Instead, King Felipe was the sole royal representative at the ceremony. He was joined by Spain’s current Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, as well as the President of the Congress of Deputies, Meritxell Batet, and the President of the Senate, Pilar Llop.
During his speech, King Felipe also emphasised the importance of marking the anniversary, saying it ”obliges us to value….the irreplaceable democratic principle that underpins our coexistence. Respect for the social and democratic State of Law in which Spain has been established since 1978 and which we have built for more than four decades, step by step and shoulder to shoulder” and added ”we all, citizens and Institutions, must feel committed and obliged to defend, protect and preserve our coexistence in democracy and freedom.”
Spain’s monarch ended by describing the anniversary as a chance ” to reaffirm and renew the commitment of all State institutions to our democratic system of rights and freedoms”, ending ”we owe it to the Spanish people.”