It was a ceremony changed in difficult times that recognised the ongoing work of those coping with the many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The Princess of Asturias Awards 2020 have taken place in Oviedo with Spain’s future queen handing over the prizes at an event charged with emotion.
Princess Leonor, now 14, spoke of the hard times experienced by many across Spain and the world as she gave the main address at the ceremony which took place on October 16th 2020 at the Hotel of the Reconquita in Oviedo. The princess paid tribute to medical and emergency staff, recognised in this year’s awards for their tireless work throughout the pandemic, recognising ”the importance of solidarity” which she said she and many young people had learned ”thanks to people who, like the winners, are an example of how to deal with difficulties.”
Leonor also oversaw the presentation of the awards. Unlike previous years, there was no obligation for winners to attend in person. However, many of those recognised did attend the ceremony with others making speeches of thanks by video link during the ceremony.
The Princess of Asturias Awards were handed out in the Covadonga room of the hotel where, forty years earlier, the prizes had been born. This historic location also allowed the limited guests to sit apart from one another, observing social distancing, while all in attendance wore masks.
The ceremony began with the arrival of the royal party. Princess Leonor took her place in the main hall alongside her parents, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, and her younger sister, Infanta Sofia. Her paternal grandmother, Queen Sofia, also attended, sitting in a specially created royal box above the hall. Winners then entered, bowing first to the King of Spain and his family and then turning to bow to Queen Sofia overlooking the event.
King Felipe also spoke during the ceremony, saying ”during this crisis, most Spanish people are showing unequivocal proof of resistance and integrity” and went on to add ”that example demands that all institutions be always, now more than ever, at the side and at the service of the citizens.”
Earlier in the day, Leonor, her parents and her sister had held an audience with the winners in attendance for the ceremony. On October 17th 2020 they will travel to the outstanding community recognised in this year’s Awards.