The police had closed a security bubble around the main platform of the National Holiday parade, which was held this morning in Madrid, and had kept the public about 100 meters away from the place where the authorities were. But that has not prevented, for yet another year, the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, from being booed and the shouts of “Out!” and “Resignation!” have resounded in the Paseo de La Castellana, where thousands of people have gathered, despite the fact that it had been recommended to follow the military parade on television, since the pandemic, although in decline, is not definitively defeated.
Pedro Sánchez did not appear until the last moment, when the vehicle in which the Kings were arriving was already descending the Paseo de la Castellana and the other authorities — the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles; the Madrid president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso; the mayor of the capital, José Luis Martínez-Almeida; and the head of the military leadership, Admiral Teodoro López Calderón, were waiting for the head of state at the foot of the platform. When it was announced over the loudspeaker that the President of the Government would receive the Monarch, the boos began, audible despite the distance. They have been repeated at the end of the act, at the time when the escort vehicles of the Royal House were leaving, which part of the public has confused with those of the Government. As with his arrival, the car that was carrying Sánchez discreetly left a side street. From the balconies of a building located next to the Santiago Bernabéu, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Spain, insults of a tavern tone have rained down on him.
The parade has returned this October 12 to its traditional stage of La Castellana, after last year it had to be reduced to a static act confined in the parade ground of the Royal Palace due to the covid. The military parade has had a smaller format, since only 2,656 military personnel have participated (compared to 4,200 in 2019), in addition to 115 vehicles (150 two years ago) and 68 aircraft, including airplanes and helicopters (76 then).
The route has also been somewhat shorter (less than two kilometers), between the Plaza de Cuzco and the Calle de Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, and no chain-link vehicles have circulated, such as battle tanks. Contrary to what happened in 2019, when a paratrooper got caught in a lamppost, the Papea (Acrobatic Parachute Patrol) of the Air Force deposited in front of the rostrum, with millimeter precision, a 54-square-meter flag of Spain, which has presided over the act. Once again, the closure has been the responsibility of the Eagle Patrol, which has twice painted the Madrid sky red and gualda.
The parade was chaired by Felipe VI, who wore the uniform of a captain general of the Army, accompanied by Queen Letizia, in a blue dress, and Infanta Sofía. The great absentee has been Princess Eleanor, who is studying high school at a boarding school in Wales (United Kingdom); traveling to Spain would force her to be quarantined for five days upon her return.
In the tribune of politicians were, among others, the leaders of the PP, Pablo Casado, and of Vox, Santiago Abascal, who have not spoken. They have remained standing for most of the parade, perhaps because Zapatero’s decision to sit by the US flag in the 2003 parade paid off with criticism for years. In another rostrum the regional presidents were seated, except for the Basque Iñigo Urkullu and the Catalan, Pere Aragonès, who were regularly absent, as well as the Galician Alberto Núñez Feijóo and the Castilian-La Mancha Emiliano García-Page, who excused their presence.
The motto of this edition of the National Holiday has been “Service and commitment”, in reference to the intervention of public servants in the face of crises such as the one caused by the pandemic, the Filomena storm or the eruption of the La Palma volcano. As every year, the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, held a videoconference early in the morning with the Spanish military contingents deployed abroad, congratulating them for their work and for putting “the flag of Spain very high.” .
The novelty, which was to be the presence of the prototype of the new 8×8 Dragon wheeled armored vehicle, was dropped late in the program, according to military sources. The command of the parade has corresponded this time to the general chief of the Parachute Brigade (Bripac) and, together with the three armies, troops from the Military Emergency Unit (UME), Civil Guard, National Police Corps, Maritime Rescue and Customs Surveillance Service.
After the parade, the Kings have offered a reception in the Royal Palace although, due to sanitary restrictions, the traditional cocktail has been abolished and the number of guests has been cut to less than 200, compared to almost 1,500 in 2019. The handrail – a formal greeting to the Kings – has lasted just over 10 minutes, has been limited to a gesture from a distance and the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, who has attended the parade, like the others, has been absent. United We can ministers, except for the head of Universities, Manuel Castells, for health reasons. Nor has the Minister of Industry, Reyes Maroto, on a trip to Italy, been in any of the events.