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King Felipe marks anniversary of accession with rewards for outstanding citizens and heartfelt tribute to Queen Letizia

The dense agenda for the celebrations of King Felipe’s 10th anniversary of his proclamation as Monarch continued with the handing out of honours for the Order of Civil Merit. 

After the solemn Changing of the Guard in Plaza de Oriente, King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía made their way into the Salón de Columnas (Columns Hall), where the central event of the day took place. 

Among the guests were all those who held/are holding relevant institutional positions since 2014, which is why cameras captured the presence of former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, as well as current PM Pedro Sánchez, the Presidents of the Congress and the Senate. Also present were leaders of the judicial power. 

Once sat down, the Ceremony Master read the reasons that led the council to award the honours of the Order of Civil Merit to the 19 recipients. The number is significant, as there was one honour recipient per autonomic community or city. Names included scientists, priests, volunteers, entrepreneurs, engineers and teachers, all of whom are known in their communities for their work towards integration and cooperation. 

This event is reserved only for special occasions, and it took place in 2015 (1st anniversary of the proclamation), 2019 (for the 5th anniversary of the proclamation) and 2021 (to reward citizens who distinguished themselves for their service during the pandemic). 

King Felipe, as Head of State, is the Chief of the Order of Civil Merit, which was created on the 25th of June 1926 by King Alfonso XIII with the aim of reward the civic virtues of people who serve the State, as well as the extraordinary services that Spanish and foreign citizens have performed to promote the good of the country.

Afterwards, and after a smiley exchange with his eldest daughter, King Felipe took to the podium to offer a few words, in which he remarked: “10 years can seem a not-so-extensive period of time when compared to History, but, in institutional and personal terms, they represent a sufficient amount of time to make an assessment with serenity and perspective”. 

He also praised his family: “Through all this time, I could count on the support of the Queen. With willingness, dedication and empathy, her institutional activity has significantly contributed to give visibility and attention to the needs of people, especially the most vulnerable. At the same time, we could count, the Queen and I, with the increasing support of our daughters, and we want this anniversary to also be a special occasion for them. Together with other young people of their generation, they have started to live and understand, with the needed critical sense and eagerness to learn, the realities of our collective lives and the complex world dynamics”. 

He went on to explain the motto selected for these celebrations: “Ladies and gentlemen, throughout these years, service, commitment and duty have been the pillars of my undertaking as King. For this, ‘servicio, compromiso y deber’ [service, commitment and duty not] is the motto y chose for this anniversary”. 

He went on to praise all the award recipients, as they “are a big inspiration in this engagement [his duties as King, noa] and gives us the confidence to keep working for our country, for our nation, for Spain”. 

After King Felipe’s speech, the event was declared closed, and the honour recipients moved to the Salón de Alabarderos to take a group photo. 

However, the most moving part of the day was yet to come…