King Felipe VI of Spain gave his first Christmas speech as king last night following great expectation on the street.
Thousands of people tuned in to national television stations at 9pm before sitting down to their dinners.
As news broke two days beforehand that the king’s younger sister the Infanta Cristina is to face trial regarding a tax-fraud case her husband Iñaki Urdangarin is involved in, conversations in homes, offices and bars across the country debated whether any specific mention would be made during the speech.
Although he did not speak specifically of his sister, the first part of King Felipe’s speech – recorded in a lounge of Zarzuela palace with framed family photos to his right and a Christmas tree visible through a window behind his seat in an obvious attempt to give a homely feel to the speech – was dedicated to corruption cases in general with mentions of the need to clean up Spain’s image and faith in justice.
The king asked for trust in the system and promised that the majority of public servants are honest people dedicated to their work and that the few bad eggs would be held responsible for their actions.
King Felipe has taken measures to clean up the image of the royal family since his coronation on June 19 2014 including new rules forbidding family members from accepting gifts or special treatment.
The second part of the speech was dedicated to the difficult financial situation in Spain and the king stated that although things are improving, current unemployment levels are unacceptable and there is still room for improvement.
The king went on to speak of Cataluña and explained that he was pained and worried by the emotional split between Spain and the autonomous community, stating that both parts need each other and that millions of Spaniards hold Cataluña close to their hearts as millions of Catalans also hold Spain close to theirs.
His royal highness asked for respect for the Spanish Constitution which guarantees citizens’ rights to democracy, peace and freedom
King Felipe said that since his father’s abdication he has felt loved and appreciated by the people of Spain and declared that it is up to everyone to build on the efforts and sacrifices of past generations to continue correcting mistakes and make Spain a modern country every citizen can feel proud of.
The king finally wished everyone a very happy Christmas on behalf of himself, Queen Letizia and their daughters Princess Leonor of Asturias and the Infanta Sofia and ended by saying happy Christmas in Spanish, Basque, Catalan and Galician.