The reigning Spanish king and queen, Felipe VI and Letizia, visited Barcelona in secret this Monday. Although there was no activity marked today for the monarch in the Spanish royal house's official agenda of activities, the reality is that he travelled with Letizia to the Catalan capital to present a literary award - the Cervantes Prize for 2020 - to the poet Joan Margarit. The Cervantes prize is one of the most important of Spain's literary awards, but its traditional ceremony on April 23rd at Madrid's University of Alcalá could not take place then due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, initially, the monarch was to have been accompanied in Catalonia by the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, as it was planned that they would go together to an event held by Foment del Treball, the Catalan employers' association. However, the prime minister is currently in Covid quarantine after a meeting last week with French president Emmanuel Macron, who has contracted the virus. Since Sánchez had cancelled his activities, Felipe VI had nothing planned in his public agenda for this Monday - in Barcelona or anywhere else.
Thus, the royal palace reported afterwards that there was a brief intimate ceremony, with only the poet and members of his family present at the Palauet Albéniz, the official residence of the Spanish monarchs during their stays in Barcelona. During the ceremony for the prestigious literature prize, the poet recited two poems, in Spanish and Catalan. In a video published on social media, the monarch can be seen presenting the award to Margarit. “It is an honour to present you with this award which has great signficance,” said the Spanish king.
In the video, with the king, the queen and Margarit seen maintaining their safety distances and wearing masks, they joke about the fact that they "can't make speeches here". In addition to the prize, Felipe also presents the writer with his medal, which the king himself places around Margarit's neck.
The Spanish monarchs were accompanied by the Spanish culture minister, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, in their clandestine visit. With the poet were his wife, children and grandchildren. After the award ceremony, Felipe VI and Letizia returned to Madrid.