The Spanish royals were out in force today as they stepped out to celebrate Spain‘s National Day amid ongoing political turmoil in the country.
Queen Letizia was joined by husband King Felipe VI and Princesses Leonor, 11 and Sofía, 10 at the annual military parade in Madrid.
The event is seen as a display of unity in what has been a turbulent year for the country, marred by a string of terrorist attacks and an ongoing independence row with Catalonia threatening to break away from Spain.
The family were joined by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the annual parade which falls on October 12 – the day that Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Americas in 1492 – and is also a national holiday.
Meanwhile, 300 miles away in Barcelona, thousands of Catalans who want their region to remain in Spain marched through the city waving both Spanish and Catalan flags and shouting ‘I am Spanish’.
Queen Letizia walks with daughters Sofia (left) and Leonor as they join King Felipe VI for Spain’s National Day in Madrid amid ongoing political turbulence
Show of unity: In Barcelona, thousands of Catalans who want their region to remain in Spain marched through the city waving both Spanish and Catalan flags and shouting ‘I am Spanish’
In Madrid, thousands of people waving Spanish flags lined the pavement of the Paseo de la Castellana avenue for the military parade amid crisis over Catalonia’s vote for independence in a referendum considered illegal by national authorities.
Last week, King Felipe gave a televised address to the nation where he accused Catalan authorities of deliberately bending the law with their ‘irresponsible conduct’ following violent clashes in towns and cities across the autonomous region.
Walking alongside her husband today, Queen Letizia looked demure in a grey wool skirt suit featuring delicate floral embroidery detail on the skirt.
The former journalist opted for a belted peplum jacket, adding a feminine touch to her smart outfit with a pearl brooch, matching earrings and a satin clutch bag which matched perfectly to her navy courts.
Catalonia’s bid for independence: The latest
Spain is currently waiting for a response to a government request to Catalonia’s leader to clarify by Monday if he has already declared independence.
If so, Spain warns it may apply Article 155 of its Constitution and begin taking full or partial control of the region.
In Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital, thousands of people waving Spanish and Catalan flags marched to a central square, some with their faces in the red and yellow colours of both the Spanish and Catalan flags and shouting ‘Viva Espana’, or long live Spain.
Thousands of Catalans who want the region to remain in Spain march through Barcelona today as they mark the Dia de la Hispanidad, or Spain’s National Day
The slogan of the march was ‘Catalonia yes. Spain, too’, supporting autonomy for Catalonia, but within Spain as a whole.
The protesters booed when passing groups of regional police, who are seen by the unionists as having done too little to stop separatist efforts to stage an independence referendum on October 1.
Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont announced on Tuesday that he was using the claimed victory in the banned referendum to proceed with a declaration of Catalan independence, but proposed freezing its implementation for a few weeks to allow for dialogue and mediation with the national government in Madrid.
Poignant: The event is seen as a display of unity after a turbulent year for the country, which has been marred by terrorist attacks and an ongoing independence row, with Catalonia threatening to break away
Formal occasion: The family were joined by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the parade which marks October 12, the day that Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Americas in 1492
Her two adorable daughters, just a year apart in age, could have passed for twins with their matching blonde side partings.
Sofía, 10, was dressed in in a tweed coat dress while her older sister Leonor, who is slightly shorter than her younger sibling, wore a pretty crimson dress and cardigan.
Their father, meanwhile, looked smart in his full military uniform.
Each year, some 3,000 troops and Civil Guard officers, plus military vehicles and planes, take part in the parade in the Spanish capital.
Family affair: The couple’s two adorable daughters, just a year apart in age, could have passed for twins with their matching blonde side partings
The couple arrive for the event in a private car. Each year, some 3,000 troops and Civil Guard officers, plus military vehicles and planes, take part in the parade in the Spanish capital
The holiday is known as Dia de la Hispanidad, or Spain’s National Day. It celebrates Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World and is also Spain’s armed forces day.
Spain’s national day is held annually every October 12. To commemorate it, there is a parade performed by the military, which also typically features a display by the Spanish Air Force’s aerobatics team.
It is chaired by the King and usually held in Madrid. An array of officials including foreign diplomats and members of the autonomous governments are invited to attend.
The royal family have made it a tradition to attend as a foursome, with the girls joining their parents at last year’s event.
King Felipe’s address to the nation
Delivering a televised address to the nation last week, King Felipe VI claimed the Catalan authorities had deliberately bent the law with their ‘irresponsible conduct’.
He said the state needs to ensure constitutional order and the rule of law in Catalonia.
King Felipe spoke out as tens of thousands of people joined marches across Barcelona in protest against the Spanish government’s actions over the region’s independence vote.
The king said that the bid by authorities in the north-eastern region to push ahead with independence has ‘undermined coexistence’ in Catalonia.
The king delivers a speech on television from the Zarzuela Palace last week – calling for the Spanish state to ensure constitutional order and the rule of law in Catalonia
‘Today, Catalan society is fractured and confronted,’ Felipe said, referring to the political crisis as ‘very serious moments for our democratic life’.
He said the state needs to ensure Spain’s constitutional order and the correct functioning of Catalan institutions and rule of law.
Spain’s conservative government has said it will respond with ‘all necessary measures’ to counter the Catalan defiance.
It is holding talks with national opposition leaders to try to find consensus on the response, which could include suspending the region’s self-government.
Separatist groups and unions had initially called for strikes to be held on Tuesday in support of Catalan leaders pushing ahead with a declaration of independence from Spain.
But many non-separatists were also drawn to the streets following the crackdown on the referendum vote on Sunday October 1.