SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


King Felipe makes first appearance since political protests across Spain

King Felipe and Queen Letizia have carried out a series of engagements against a backdrop of protests in Spain against the formation of a new government.

They opened a new art exhibition in Madrid together before Queen Letizia went on to present journalism prizes.

However, both events attracted debate on social media and further afield about King Felipe’s role as a coalition government is pieced together and protests against concessions made to some of those taking part in the administration continue to cause anger.

On paper, the royal agenda was standard fare. The King and Queen of Spain oversaw the start of a special exhibition on Picasso, marking the 50th anniversary of his death. The display, focused on work from the early part of the 20th century, is taking place at the Queen Sofia Museum.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia toured the exhibition and met some of those involved in curating it.

Queen Letizia then went on to present the International Prizes for Journalism of El Mundo newspaper. The awards were established to honour the expression of freedom.

However, the royal household has found itself at the centre of political debate in recent weeks after King Felipe asked the incumbent Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, to try and form a new administration. Spain’s most recent general election was inconclusive although the Partido Popular, led by Alberto Nunez Feijoo, won the largest number of seats, albeit not enough for a majority. However, when Feijoo failed to bring together a coalition, King Felipe asked Pedro Sanchez if he could form an administration with the royal household emphasising that this was in line with the constitution. Sanchez has since put together a wide ranging coalition that includes separatist parties from Catalonia. That’s led to widespread protests across the country with tens of thousands taking to the streets at the weekend against it.

The official royal social media channels have seen an unprecedented level of direct comments in the past weeks, including some critical responses to King Felipe’s apparent low profile in recent days. The royal household has made no comment.

However, it was noted by some commentators that the first royal to make a public appearance following the protests at the weekend was the always popular Queen Sofia. King Felipe’s mother attended an event just hours after the protests, accompanied by her sister, Princess Irene of Greece.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.