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Spain’s royals find traditional event changed by pandemic

King Felipe and Queen Letizia
Casa de S.M. el Rey

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.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia during the ceremony at the Plaza de la Armeria
(photo Casa de S.M. el Rey)

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 delivers his speech during the 2021 Pascua Militar (photo Casa de S.M. el Rey)

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.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.