Saturday, 22 October 2016

Felipe and his two queens

King Felipe of Spain with his consort, Letizia, and his mother, Sofia, at the Princesa de Asturias Awards 2016

They are among the most high profile prizes handed out in Spain and a regular point in the royal calendar. The Princess of Asturias Awards recognise excellence in the arts, sciences and humanities and are presented every year at a glittering ceremony in Oviedo. And while the royal whose name they carry, Leonor of Asturias, is too young to do the honours, there is still plenty of regal presence at the big event. For King Felipe took the two queens in his life, Letizia and Sofia, along as always for this royal highlight of the year.

The awards were set up in 1980 as a way of honouring achievement in a range of areas including literature, sport and international co-operation. They were established by the foundation belonging to the then heir to the throne, Felipe, Prince of Asturias and for years were known by his title. On his accession to the throne in 2014, his daughter took the traditional title belonging to the first in line and the awards changed to the Princess of Asturias prizes.

Leonor, who will be eleven at the end of October, is yet to attend the ceremony but her dad, mum and granny were on hand to present the awards. King Felipe, Queen Letizia and Queen Sofia arrived at the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo for the ceremony which this year saw recognition for classical scholar, Mary Beard, in the Social Sciences category and a prize for US author, Richard Ford, in literature.

This is always a bit of a homecoming for Queen Letizia who was born in Oviedo. After walking the blue carpet with her husband and mother in law, she and Felipe headed to the main stage for the ceremony which was watched from the auditorium by Sofia.

Earlier in the day, Felipe and Letizia had held an audience with all the prize winners at the Hotel Reconquista in Oviedo, providing a chance to chat with them and provide the big group photo everyone had been waiting for.

At the evening event, King Felipe told the award winners that attending the ceremony always helped him and Letizia expand their cultural horizons and bolstered their confidence in society and civilization.


There's one more day of awards before this year's Princess of Asturias events come to an end. Felipe and Letizia will travel to the community named as the most exemplary this year for a day of engagements there. Just one queen for this king on this final part of a three day Asturian adventure but still a regal end to a royal highlight of the year.

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