Spanish frontline healthcare workers will receive the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord this year, Casa Real announced on Wednesday.
In a statement posted to Twitter, King Felipe, Queen Letizia and Princess Leonor wrote, “All of you, who throughout these difficult and very hard months have faced the pandemic on the front line, symbolise the spirit of struggle,” in announcing the news.
The Princess of Asturias Foundation wrote: “Spanish health workers in direct contact with patients affected by COVID-19 form the front line in the fight against this disease in our country and have demonstrated a commendable level of professionalism and commitment since the commencement of this healthcare emergency.
“Exposed to a high, aggressive viral load, in the face of long working hours, sometimes without suitable equipment or material means, according to complaints from professional and trade union organisations in this sector, their unconditional dedication represents an exercise in exemplary citizenship and in their vocation to serve.”
The citation concludes: “With an outstanding spirit of personal sacrifice in support of public health and the well-being of society as a whole, they have become a symbol of the fight against the greatest global pandemic that has afflicted humanity in the last century.”
According to the Princess of Asturias Foundation, “Spain is one of the countries to have most virulently suffered [COVID-19’s] impact, with 239,479 patients diagnosed as of 1 June. The WHO itself has praised the work of Spanish health workers.”
Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries, with just over 27,000 deaths due to COVID-19, and the country has been on a strict lockdown since March in an effort to flatten the curve.
Princess Leonor has been carrying out engagements throughout the pandemic when safe to do so. She joined her parents and younger sister, Infanta Sofía, for a moment of silence last week to remember those who have died during the pandemic; and, in April, she and her sister participated in a reading of Don Quixote to mark Book Day and thanked frontline workers.
“We have been, like millions of children, more than a month at home and unable to go to school because of this pandemic, trying to continue with life in the best possible way,” she says in the video.
“You are all important,” she says to frontline workers. “Thank you. We send you a hug with all our love.”
The Princess of Asturias Awards will be presented in October to its laureates — ranging from the arts, sports, social sciences, technology and scientific research, international research, and communications and humanities — at a ceremony in Oviedo.
The Awards had been named the Prince of Asturias Awards until 2014, when King Felipe ascended to the throne and Princess Leonor became the Princess of Asturias. She attended the awards for the first time last year where she promised to “serve Spain.”