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The Spanish monarchs won't present this year's Princess of Girona awards in Girona, but in Vilablareix, a village less than 10km from the city. Specifically, they'll use the private events space at Espai Mas Marroch-Centre d'Esdeveniments, belonging to the restaurant EL Celler de Can Roca.

The choice is curious: the monarchs are seeking refuge in a village of around 2,700 inhabitants which has been governed by pro-independence ERC (Catalan Republican Left) for 19 years, enjoying for 15 of them an absolute majority on the council. In this legislature, eight of the village's eleven councillors come from the party. Of the remaining three, two are from pro-independence PDeCAT, one from PSC. Indeed, the town's mayor has openly opposed welcoming the ceremony.

That said, it won't be the monarchs' first visit to Mas Marroch. They went there eight years ago, before Juan Carlos I's abdication, for a meeting of the Consejo Superior de Cámaras de Comercio, Industria y Navegación de España (High Council of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Shipping of Spain). Felipe, then still prince of Girona, and Letizia attended to celebrate the organisation's centenary.

Persona non grata

In 2012, during the previous legislature, whilst Juan Carlos was still king, the town council declared him and the whole royal family persona non grata. The argument used was that Juan Carlos hadn't been democratically elected by the town, but had come to the throne "as a result of the inheritance dictated by his predecessor, Francisco Franco". The village also urged other nearby municipalities to withdraw honours from the king and his family.

They also argue that Juan Carlos is a direct heir of king Philip V (1700-1746), who was responsible, through the Nueva Planta decrees, for the loss of Catalonia's national liberties which "still haven't been recovered". These decrees, issued during and after the War of the Spanish Succession, were aimed at centralising the country by abolishing traditional institutions and imposing Castilian Spanish as the sole language of law and politics.

The motion was presented by ERC's councillors and was supported by CiU. The PSC councillor abstained.