Read in Catalan

The devastating consequences of the speech given by Spain's king Felipe VI on 3rd October last year have not diminished with time. In fact, they have grown, and are now causing the relationship between the Catalan institutions and the Spanish monarchy to enter an enormously critical phase. In the next two weeks the royal couple will visit Catalonia for two very different events: the inauguration of the Mediterranean Games and the presentation of the Princesa de Girona awards. In both cases, the visits are surrounded in controversy and Catalan president Quim Torra has publicly called on the monarch to apologise for his unfortunate words two days after last October's independence referendum and for the complete lack of empathy that he demonstrated in that speech for the thousand of people who needed medical attention after the disproportionate police action to disrupt the Catalan vote.

At the moment, the more complex of the king's two visits is that of the awarding of the Princesa de Girona prizes. The Girona city council, after declaring Felipe to be persona non grata a few months ago, has refused to allow the ceremony to take place in the exhibition hall where it has been celebrated every year. The official reason is the construction work underway there, but it is obvious that this is merely an excuse - to understand this, it is a very similar situation to what has occurred when Real Madrid chairman Florentino Pérez has alleged similar reasons for refusing to allow the club's Santiago Bernabéu stadium to be used for a Copa del Rey final if one of the teams competing is F.C.Barcelona. King Felipe, in an unprecedented situation, has been forced to abandon the plan to hold the event in the city of Girona and has opted to move it to Vilablareix, a small town just beyond Girona city limits where the celebrated chefs the Roca brothers have a private estate that will accommodate the ceremony. The problems do not end here, as Vilablareix declared not only the current king's father Juan Carles but also the entire Spanish royal family as non grata, and the local mayor, when informed of the planned visit, has reminded Felipe VI that there is no way that the town will accept his presence.

Nothing like this has ever happened before but it is very probable that this situation will continue for a long time if the monarch does not rectify, and his visits to Catalonia will end up becoming a problem. Moreover, in contrast with the position of Spain's former PP government, many of the new Socialist-led government's leaders already expressed their disappointment and concern about Felipe VI's words on Catalonia at the time of the speech itself, last October.

And nor is this the only point of conflict, since prior to the awards ceremony, the inauguration of the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona is to take place next Friday. All involved are maintaining an unusual level of secrecy about their plans for that day - both the Spanish monarchy and the Catalan presidency. In the case of the former, the presence of the king is considered as certain, although officially it has not been confirmed. On the other hand, the Catalan government has apparenntly not yet taken a decision on what president Quim Torra will do. "He won't go", say some voices very close to the Catalan leader, adding that for Torra to attend "a prior public apology from the king is necessary". Other members of the Catalan government are not so sure, seeing that in the end it will be difficult for Torra to maintain this position. A head-on clash at a time when everything is being examined extremely closely.