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Spain's new king starts reign with visit to sensitive Catalonia

Spain's new king starts reign with visit to sensitive Catalonia
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Just a week into his reign, Spain’s new King Felipe VI has visited one of the country’s most politically sensitive regions, Catalonia.

In his first speech, Felipe made reference to its growing separatist movement and his desire to spark dialogue and encourage national unity.

Sentiments he shared again at an awards ceremony for a charitable foundation.

“I want to make this Crown more visible in this land, to transmit messages of respect, understanding and coexistence that, as I pointed out in my proclamation, are inseparable to our Parliamentary Monarchy,” said Felipe.

Dialogue between parties in Catalonia and their national counterparts in Madrid has almost completely broken down over issues such as tackling corruption and increase transparency.

The region is due to hold a referendum on its status in November.

Meanwhile, in a bid to stem further damage on the royal family, Spain’s parliament has passed a law protecting former King Juan Carlos from lawsuits in Spanish civil and criminal courts, including two paternity suits.

A Spanish man, Alberto Sola Jimenez and a Belgian woman, Ingrid Jeanne Satiau, both claim to be his children, according to Spanish media.

Under the legislation, Juan Carlos will only answer to the Supreme Court, Spain’s tribunal of last resort. Similar protection is afforded to high-ranking civil servants and people in political office in Spain.