The King of Spain has spoken of the need for ”unity and fraternity” as his country negotiates life after lockdown. Felipe VI was speaking as took part in a traditional ceremony honouring the patron saint of Spain.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia were in Santiago to mark the Feast of St. James, which falls on July 25th. An offering is always made to the saint on that day on behalf of the country and the royals with a member of the Borbon dynasty often taking part. Felipe last made the offering himself in 2014, just a month after he ascended the Spanish throne. He returned in 2020 where he and Queen Letizia continued their tour of different parts of Spain to show their support for the economy and society as the country followingn lockdown.
The couple arrived in Santiago by plane on the morning of July 25th and after official welcomes, they made their way into the Cathedral for Mass marking the feast day of St. James. After the gospel was read, King Felipe gave a short address before making the offering to the saint.
In his speech, the King of Spain said ”We make this offering on behalf of a people that has accomplished great deeds, made great contributions to the world, and that, at the same time, has managed to overcome the adversities that fate has brought”.
Felipe VI made reference to the coronavirus pandemic which has led to almost 28, 500 deaths in Spain. The king made reference to its social and economic impact and overcoming those challenges with ”deep unity around our shared values and a commitment stand firm in pursuit of the common good.” And he highlighted the duty of the Spanish Crown in that work, saying it was ”a meeting point that allows us to walk together and freely on the Path through which our history runs”.
He also emphasised the importance of unity in the post lockdown phase, saying that the example of St. James showed that ”fraternity and unity….best germinate in the spirit of the peoples, moving them towards great achievements.”
Following Mass, King Felipe and Queen Letizia walked to the mayor’s office where they signed the city’s book of honour.
This latest visit comes at the end of a turbulent few weeks for the Spanish Royal Family who have come under increased scrutiny over allegations of financial impropriety by King Juan Carlos. Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said last week he found the allegations disturbing. King Felipe renounced his personal inheritance from Juan Carlos in March and ended his father’s allowance at the same time.
The Feast of St. James is a holiday in Galicia. St. James was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and is believed to be buried at the site where the Cathedral of Santiago now stands. Usually, the days running up to his feast involve celebrations and public events in Santiago but celebrations have been curtailed this year by the coronavirus pandemic.