Crown Prince Felipe has replaced his ailing father at Spain’s National Day parade – inspecting troops in an austerity-hit show of military might.
King Juan Carlos, 75, is recovering from hip surgery. This was the first time he has missed the event. It is bound to fuel speculation that his son may soon take over the throne, with the Royals in need of a boost after a series of scandals.
Spending on the parade in Madrid has been cut in recent years and the belt has been tightened further, despite the obligatory patriotric fly-past.
Elsewhere, a show of Spanish pride came from an unlikely spot – Catalonia. The north-eastern region is home to an active independence movement.
But, waving both Catalan and Spanish flags, demonstrators defending a double identity made their voices heard on Saturday. Their rally was supported by Spain’s ruling Popular Party.
“Today silent Catalonia breaks its silence,” said Alicia Sanchez Camacho, who leads the Popular Party in Catalonia. “We want to say, loud and clear, that we are Catalans. This is our way of being Spaniards. We don’t want to move out from Europe. We want to guarantee our coexistence and live in freedom and equality.”
Saturday’s event was a counter-demonstration to a pro-independence rally in Catalonia last month and calls for a referendum on breaking away. Those demonstrating on Spain’s national day were eager to show that they hold both their region and the country in their hearts.
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