Despite what some pundits had been predicting, the new Spanish king Felipe VI didn’t make any clear gesture to Catalans during his first public act. Other than a very vague statement about Spain being a “diverse” country where “all can be accommodated”, Felipe VI’s speech didn’t differ too much from his predecessor’s. The 46-years-old monarch stressed his “faith in the unity of Spain”, cited the names of four poets from the different languages spoken in Spain and wrapped up his speech with a brief “Muchas gracias, Moltes gràcies, eskerrik asko, moitas grazas”, that is, “thank you” in Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galician languages.
The Catalan leading daily Vilaweb covered the issue extensively –as all the other Catalan media– with one peculiarity: it published all the pictures of the royal celebration upside down, with this statement:
Vilaweb | Felipe VI “I want to reaffirm my faith in the unity of Spain”
“VilaWeb has decided to publish all of the photographs that are related to the coronation of Felipe VI upside down. In this way, the tradition from Xàtiva is continued, where the portrait of Felip V is hung upside down to condemn his burning of the city. Indeed, the coronation of his successor will take place on the same day that the city’s burning, and the city’s name change to San Felipe, are remembered.
VilaWeb, in addition, declares its Republican convictions and understands that publishing photographs upside down is another way of protesting the imposition of the monarchy.”
Some international media also looked at the prospects of the new king getting involved in the resolution of the Catalan issue:
Reuters | Spain’s popular prince must charm Catalonia as king
“[…] some constitutional experts and politicians are hoping the new king will use behind-the-scenes influence to push Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and opposition leaders into reforming Spain’s 1978 constitution to resolve the Catalan crisis by redesigning relations between autonomous regions and the central government.
“The new king could push in some way a constitutional reform to help to legitimize the monarchy more fully,” said Joaquin Tornos, a law professor at the University of Barcelona.”
Telegraph | Spain’s new King Felipe VI faces challenges as he takes the Crown
” […] More threatening is Catalonia is fighting to hold a Scottish-style referendum on whether to become an independent state.
Even though the monarch’s role as head of state is largely symbolic, there is hope that the new King will use his influence to start a dialogue between Madrid and Catalonia in a bid to avert the crisis.
“The monarchs, even though they can’t strictly enter into politics, have some room to manoeuvre,” said Fermin Bouza, a sociology lecturer at Madrid’s Complutense University. The new king would be in an “ideal position” to encourage politicians to sit down and talk, he said.”