King Felipe of Spain’s rare message to the nation was pretty straight forward, accusing the Catalan government of an “unacceptable disloyalty” after moving on with an independence referendum declared illegal in Madrid.
But there were also a number of messages built into the setting. The inevitable Spanish flag was of course on display, together with a slice of the EU flag. A laptop on the monarch’s left indicated that he is connected and aware of the social media battle taking place but the painting in the background also placed him firmly in a position of historical authority.
*Also read:” Catalonia hits back in battle of the paintings
The Twitter world pounced on the baton behind the King’s head, after the police made good use of theirs during Sunday’s crackdown on polling stations.
¿Esto es una porra? pic.twitter.com/7y1QSrdl0w— Tuan (@____tuan) October 3, 2017
The painting itself also sparked intrigue but it was quickly identified. It’s a portrait of Charles III, the present king’s Bourbon ancestor who imposed the Spanish (Castillian) language at the expense of Catalan in the education system in 1768.
El rey Felipe VI pronunció su mensaje institucional ante un cuadro de Carlos III, el monarca q impuso el castellano en Cataluña. Casualidad? pic.twitter.com/2nfnFhh8Jx— Fran Serrato (@FcoSerrato) October 3, 2017
In his decree, King Charles III set though sanctions including jail terms for teachers who breached the rule.
The painting wasn’t hung specially for the occasion. It’s been there since the King renovated the royal apartments three years ago.
But traditionally, every detail counts in a royal address. The monarch could have chosen any corner of the Palacio de la Zarzuela and this one spot, with this backdrop probably wasn’t a coincidence.