The King of Spain has spoken of the importance of a free press, calling it ”the oxygen that enlivens democracies”. King Felipe’s words came at a special awards ceremony in Madrid.
King Felipe VI, along with Queen Letizia, attended a gala for the annual International Journalism Awards handed out by ABC. The winners were announced in May but owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the presentation was put back until July 13th 2020.
The ceremony was held at the offices of ABC in Madrid. The couple arrived at the ceremony wearing masks.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia met the editors and managers of the paper before presenting the three awards. The Mariano de Calva prize for best article or feature went to Arturo Perez-Reverte while the Luca de Tena award for work showcasing ethical rigour and independence was awarded to Marruja Torres. Dani Duch won the Mingote prize which celebrates visual journalism.
During his speech at the ceremony, King Felipe talked about the importance of being able to celebrate with the winners in the centenary year of the awards. He also spoke of his happiness at being able to hold the ceremony itself, given the restrictions of the past months.
And the impact of coronavirus on Spanish society and the country’s economy was central to his address. King Felipe told guests that ”we must not stop with our praise of the press during the crisis”. Referring to the sudden change in working circumstances as Spain locked down and journalists, like many others, found themselves working from home, Felipe said ”newspapers continued to reach their readers, digital editions were strengthened and have reached extraordinary audiences. In the hardest days of the pandemic…..information never stopped flowing”.
The King of Spain, who has found his family the subject of much media attention in recent days, continued ”the press continued to carry out its work as the critical conscience of a diverse and plural society, a fundamental characteristic of journalism practised in freedom and democracy.” King Felipe added ”freedom of the press provides the oxygen that enlivens democracies.”
In recent weeks, the Spanish Royal Family has come under pressure with allegations over the financial dealings of King Juan Carlos. In recent days Spain’s Prime Minister described the allegations as ‘disturbing’. King Felipe said in March that he would not take any personal inheritance from his father.