We have a winner. The first royal Christmas pose of 2017 comes from Spain. Admittedly, it's about as festive as a prawn curry but it's on the official Christmas card from Felipe and Letizia. The regal Christmas season is well and truly under way.
Felicitación de Navidad de Sus Majestades los Reyes https://t.co/na6TaTJvms pic.twitter.com/KMBMgE7Ogv— Casa de S.M. el Rey (@CasaReal) December 11, 2017
Spain's royals have gone all out constitutional on us this year and who can blame them? King Felipe VI has had another shocker of a year and it's not over yet. This year, Christmas for the Borbons is all about their role at the heart of Spanish tradition. We've got Felipe, Letizia and their two daughters, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia, posing on a balcony at the Royal Palace in Madrid on Spain's national day (October 12th) with the heir to the throne in red. Short of Letizia popping La Buena on her head for some Christmas sparkle, this couldn't be clearer in its message that the royals matter at a time when Spain is still reeling from the crisis that followed the disputed Catalan referendum in October and the imposition of direct rule on the region by Madrid ahead of fresh elections just before Christmas. Felipe has taken a lot of criticism for his decision not to even mention the injuries incurred when the Guardia Civil tried to stop voting at some polling stations on October 1st 2017. Since then, he has been positioned as a central figure to keep Spain united. This card is another piece of that jigsaw.
His parents, meanwhile, have kept to their Christmas tradition and gone for a religious card. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia have chosen a nativity scene by the Renassiance painter, Bartolomeo Vivarini, painted in around 1475. It shows Mary and Joseph contemplating the newborn baby Jesus. And contemplation is a word that will resonate in the royal residences of Madrid this Christmas. By the time Felipe comes to deliver his (usually) live speech on Christmas Eve this year, the regional elections in Catalonia will be done and more politicial uncertainty can't be ruled out for a big win for the separatist parties there would raise the question of independence once more. Meanwhile, Felipe's brother in law, Inaki Urdangarin, is still appealing his conviction and sentence following a trial for tax fraud which saw his wife, Infanta Cristina, acquitted earlier this year. The Christmas cards sent from the Zarzuela Palace this year have, perhaps, never been more relevant or telling.