King Felipe and Queen Letizia were in Madrid to attend the traditional military parade held to celebrate the Día de la Hispanidad yesterday. The royal couple were accompanied by their daughters, Leonor, Princess of Asturias (who will be twelve at the end of the month), and Infanta Sofia, aged 10, for the occasion.
The Día de la Hispanidad is a national holiday in Spain which celebrates the culture, history and relationship shared by the Hispanic countries. The 12th October was chosen for the annual celebration, as Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas on that day in 1492. The holiday has differing names across the different countries and regions.
Madrid holds an annual military parade to mark the holiday, which is always attended by The King and Queen. The Día de la Hispanidad is also one of the rare public events attended by the young Infantas, along with the state opening of the Congreso de los Diputados, the Spanish Parliament. However, Leonor (heir to the Spanish throne) turns twelve this month and may step up her royal duties, as her father began to attend more engagements after his 12th birthday.
The celebration involves several flyovers, with the planes’ trails leaving the colours of the Spanish flag in the sky. There is also an extensive military parade which involves members of all Spanish regiments, including their horses and regimental mascots – one regiment is always accompanied by their regimental goat!
Standing in one spot, it would take well over an hour to see the entire parade, traditionally ending with the members of the Royal Family passing by the crowds in cars.
As is tradition, King Felipe and his family received salutes from the passing soldiers, as well as greeting honoured guests; Felipe also oversaw the raising of the Spanish flag.The female Royals were clutching traditional Spanish fans as they tried to keep cool in the heat, with temperatures in Madrid still reaching 29 degrees celsius.
Following the military parade, Felipe and Letizia returned to the capital’s Palacio Real to host a reception for local politicians as well as members of the military and the clergy.
This year’s ceremony also involved a special act of remembrance for the victims of the terror attack in Las Ramblas and the Cambrils. Ambassadors from countries who lost citizens in the attacks (such as the UK, Belgium, Canada and Germany) were invited to represent those victims.
The family of Ignacio Echeverrí were also present to remember him, known affectionately as the ‘Skateboard hero’, who lost his life when he tried to use his skateboard to save people from three terrorists on London Bridge during the June 2017 attack.
There was sad news following today’s parade; a pilot who participated in the flyover sadly passed away after his aircraft crashed upon return to the military’s airfield in Albacete. King Felipe has expressed his condolences on behalf of the Spanish nation to the pilot’s family and colleagues. Politicians including Mariano Rajoy, President of the Spanish government, have also expressed their condolences regarding the incident.