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King Felipe marks Armed Forces Day in Spain on land and at sea

King Felipe travelled to the Principality of Asturias to take part in various events connected with this year’s Armed Forces Day, which in Spain falls on the Saturday closest to the 30th of May. 

On Friday, 24th May, His Majesty arrived on the San Lorenzo beach in Gijón, where he was welcomed by State and local authorities, including the Minister of Defense, the Chief of Staff of the Spanish Armed Forces and the President of the Principality of Asturias. 

King Felipe also spent time meeting crowds who had turned out to see him mark Armed Forces Day in Asturias (Casa de S.M. el Rey)

His first act was to board the patrol ship Atalaya from the El Musel port; from on board, he reviewed the naval parade in front of him, which included the Galicia ship, as well as two minesweepers and a boat for fishing cooperation. 

Once he disembarked the patrol ship, His Majesty went back to the San Lorenzo beach, from where he watched a show put on by the paratrooper brigade of the Air and Space Force, as well as a parade of various aircraft, both with military and civilian functions. 

King Felipe VI of Spain salutes during an event for Armed Forces Day (Casa de S.M. el Rey)

The aircraft belong to all branches of the Armed Forces, including the Civil Guard, which also displayed its naval assets, as well as their aircraft. 

The aerial show was drawn to a close by the Águila Patrol (the equivalent of the British Red Arrows), which produced colourful smoke and drew the Spanish flags above the Asturian skies. 

To conclude the act, King Felipe met with representatives of the personnel engaged in the event, both civilian and military. 

Queen Letizia joined King Felipe for events marking Armed Forces Day in her home city of Oviedo (Casa de S.M. el Rey)

Despite the pomp, Armed Forces Day is not a National holiday in Spain; therefore, it is established that the celebrations happen on the closest Saturday to the 30th of May. The date is especially significant, given that Spaniards celebrate Saint Fernando, Patron Saint of the Armed Forces. 

At the end of February, the Ministry of Defense announced that celebrations were moved up a week (meaning from Saturday 1st June to Saturday 25th May) for logistical reasons, to try and accomodate the agendas of at least the most important authorities that had to take part. 

Friday’s events were a chance for locals and citizens alike to experience the full force of the Spanish aerial fleet, given that they were not to be featured in Saturday’s parade in Oviedo. 

King Felipe oversaw a parade marking Armed Forces Day (Casa de S.M. el Rey)

King Felipe was joined by Queen Letizia for the parade with His Majesty taking a salute.

Acts connected to Armed Forces Day can be celebrated anywhere in Spain that is home to a group of any branch of the Armed Forces; the tradition had declined slightly over the late 2010s, with the military parade often taking place in Madrid, but has been revived since, which, according to most people, is a good thing to bridge the gap between the whole of the territory and the Armed Forces. Madrid already hosts the military parade for the National Day celebrations (12th October).