SPAIN’s royalty and dignitaries came together today to pay their respects to the 28,000 claimed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In a special ceremony held in the Plaza de la Armeria of Madrid’s Royal Palace, King Felipe VI presided over the official state tribute to Spain’s coronavirus victims.
In the ceremony, the King praised the country’s spirit of resilience and unity throughout the crisis.
“It has been very, very difficult,” said King Felipe.
“Many people were alone, with many others suffering from the disease and adding to this situation have been the logical feelings of fear, concern about work, fatigue and uncertainty.”
In his tribute to the deceased, he spoke of the elderly population that ‘wrote the history of Spain’ and to the younger victims who ‘had a bright future ahead of them.’
“Spain has shown its best spirit. With the passing of time, we will remember that we were an example of civic responsibility, maturity, resistance and commitment to others,” he concluded.
The event was attended by over 400 people in a specially laid out amphitheatre, with chairs spaced apart and distancing imposed.
Present were members of the Spanish government, the EU parliament, representatives of NATO and the World Health Organisation.
Also present were representatives of healthcare workers, front line workers, military personnel and family members of victims of the virus.
Hernando Calleja, the brother of journalist Jose Maria Calleja, who died from COVID-19 in April, took to the stage to tell of his heartache at losing a loved one.
In explaining how the country moves forward after the loss of so many victims, Calleja stated: “We must maintain their memory and build a country that they would have all wanted to share.”
Catalan premier Quim Torra added a sense of unity telling of the ‘tremendous tragedy’ the country had suffered.
“I believe acts like these, in which we can say goodbye to the people who died, help us with the collective grieving that we need so much,” he added.
Concluding the ceremony was the laying of white roses to honour the dead, and a minute’s silence was held to conclude the 35-minute service.
Spanish representatives will attend tomorrow’s EU summit where figures will be discussed to provide Spain with a huge economic bailout to help stem the effects of the crisis.
It is expected that the request for nearly €750 billion will create tensions between EU states after months of deadlock as to whether the money is given as loans or aid packages.