This afternoon, King Felipe was in Barcelona, leading his country in a minute’s silence to mark the terrorist attack which occurred yesterday in Las Ramblas, at the heart of the city.
The Spanish King was joined by the country’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and Ada Colau, the Mayor of Barcelona at Placa de Cataluyna, located at top of Las Ramblas – the scene of the attack for the silence at 12pm, honouring the victims and the injured.
King Felipe had been on his annual private holiday with his family in Mallorca, but returned immediately to mainland Spain as details about the attack emerged.
The attack was caused when a van was driven into crowds in Las Ramblas, an area popular with tourists. It is thought that many of the victims were not Spanish nationals, as Barcelona is a very international city with a significant tourist trade.
The event has been linked to an explosion in Alcanar on Wednesday, and a shooting in nearby Cambrils shortly afterwards.The current death toll stands at 14, with 130 injured, from all three attacks.
Spain has declared three days of national mourning.
After yesterday’s attack, the Spanish Monarchy released a strongly-worded statement via their official Twitter account: “They are murderers, nothing more than criminals, who are not going to terrorise us. All of Spain is Barcelona. Las Ramblas will once again become a place for everyone”.
Felipe also spoke with some members of the public who had gathered to attend the ceremony in the Placa de Catalunya. After the respectful silence, the crowd broke into chants of ‘No tenim por!’, which means ‘we are not afraid’ in Catalan, the area’s other language.
Although the Royal Family is not particularly well-liked in Barcelona, given the city’s strong nationalist feeling and seeking independence, it is noteworthy that in situations like this, it is the duty of the Head of State to unite the people. This is particularly true in Spain, given that PM Rajoy is not an overly popular figure, especially in Catalonia, making Felipe’s presence even more important.
The ‘Casa Real’ Twitter account also announced that tomorrow morning, Felipe and Letizia will travel to hospitals in the area to visit those who were injured in the attack.