King Felipe VI of Spain began his royal year in a very different way. Every January 6th, the Spanish monarch oversees the ‘Pascua Militar’ in Madrid, the traditional ceremony marking the start of the military year. However, in 2021, events were curtailed owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia arrived at the Royal Palace in Madrid on a cold and crisp morning. They were met by politicians including Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, and the Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles. After the formal welcome, the royal party made their way to a dais in the Plaza de la Armeria.
After standing for the Spanish national anthem and a 21 gun salute, King Felipe reviewed a formation of the Royal Guard before heading inside for the main part of the traditional ceremonies. Usually, the Throne Room of the Royal Palace is packed with members of the military. However, owing to social distancing required by the pandemic, capacity was reduced to about a third.
King Felipe, as is traditional, presented military decorations before giving a speech in which he praised the efforts of all Spain’s armed forces during the ongoing pandemic. The King of Spain recognised their work ”fighting the pandemic and its effects where it is needed, supporting and encouraging citizens, and alleviating suffering and loneliness of many people and families ” and added ”Spanish society has felt very close to you and has full confidence in your ability, professionalism and enthusiasm.”
The Pascua Militar can be traced back to the 18th century when King Carlos III ordered celebrations to mark the recovery of Mahon in Menorca from British troops on January 6th 1782.