King empire

King of Spain’s annual speech warns of virus complacency

MADRID (AP) – Citizens must remain cautious as the coronavirus can still inflict widespread damage, Spain’s King Felipe VI said in an annual speech – as infections in the country hit a new record on Friday.

MADRID (AP) – Citizens must remain cautious as the coronavirus can still inflict widespread damage, Spain’s King Felipe VI said in an annual speech – as infections in the country hit a new record on Friday.

Speaking to the nation on a pre-recorded show on Christmas Eve, the Spanish monarch said a successful deployment of the vaccine had improved the situation compared to the previous year. But he urged people not to let their guard down.

“We find that the virus still has the ability to do harm in many ways,” Felipe said. “The risk has not gone away.”

Spain, like most of Europe and other parts of the world, experiences a record peak of contagion during the holiday season, when families traditionally hold large gatherings. Health officials have reported three consecutive days of record number of cases and have reinstated mandatory masks in open spaces with a few exceptions.

“We must all do our utmost not to reverse this health crisis which has caused so much suffering,” said Felipe.

The king also remembered the inhabitants of the Spanish island of La Palma in the Atlantic Ocean, where a volcanic eruption lasting almost three months destroyed houses, infrastructure and crops but left no casualties .

“Today our hearts and thoughts remain with you,” the monarch told the islanders.

Watching the King’s annual appearance on television just before Christmas Eve dinners is an annual ritual in many Spanish homes. In recent years, as royal family scandals have escalated, media commentators and politicians have been scrutinizing his speech for signs of the monarch’s adaptation to the mood of his subjects.

But there was no direct reference to the circumstances of Felipe’s father, former King Juan Carlos I.

The former monarch, 83, moved to the United Arab Emirates last year after judicial inquiries emerged into his possible financial mischief. Although a Swiss money laundering investigation was recently dropped, Spanish Supreme Court prosecutors are still investigating the allegations.

Since his accession to the throne in 2014, Felipe, 53, has tried to distance himself from his father.

In his speech on Friday, the current monarch said all state institutions should serve the people.

“We must,” said Felipe, “respect and obey the laws, and be an example of public and moral integrity.”

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The Associated Press