Every afternoon, after arriving from school, I had some extra duties: in addition to schoolchildren, I had to write and read a folio, the first speech I would deliver as Prince of Asturias. So, one afternoon and another. Until the last moment. On the same day of the debut, in a room of the Reconquista Hotel, the then Prince Felipe wrote the text several times. I read and reread: the pronunciation, the pauses marked on the folio ... The now King pronounced his first words 38 years ago in Oviedo , in the first edition of the Prince of Asturias Awards . An intervention marked by the political context: a fragile democracy, with Franco reminiscence - the flags presiding over the act were the Francoists, with the eagle - and only months after the failed military coup of 23-F.

Today the expectation is even more alive. The Princess of Asturias, Leonor, follows in her father's footsteps. At the age of 13 he debuted at the Campoamor Theater . And like the King, the complex situation in Spain marks its end with the boiling secessionist conflict after the sentence of the process . Their paths are intertwined: stage, age, complex political-social framework ... Although there are differences. Today there is already a decree that regulates the national anthem or that of the flag of Spain and that of other flags and teachings. In 1981 it was necessary to improvise.

As with the then Prince Felipe, the House of the King has spent months working in detail on the debut of Princess Leonor. Everything measured, thought, with a why. "The devil is hidden in small details," is the maxim that governs Zarzuela . For example, this Thursday, during a visit to the Cathedral , the Royal Family greeted and talked for a few minutes with the Vesuvius workers locked inside the temple as a measure of protest over the labor conflict they maintain, and who handed them an orange T-shirt , symbol of his protest. "They were aware and have given them encouragement. The Queen has spoken the most with them," explained the dean of the Cathedral . As many Kings as their daughters spent several minutes greeting the people concentrated in the Plaza de Alfonso II .

Princess Leonor and Queen Letizia take a picture with an assistant upon arrival in Oviedo.Damián Arienza

Zarzuela, in any case, has made an important decision: although the heiress will be the center of all the foci, she will not have all the prominence. The King's House follows its strategy of introducing it into institutional life but with the handbrake. In 1981 it was bet because "the desire for maximum prominence was for the Prince," recalls Carlos Fuente Lafuente , who was in the direction of the Foundation's protocol from 1981 to 2013. For the first time, the King - then Juan Carlos I-, presided over an act but did not speak, an update, so many, of the protocol. Leonor will speak five minutes, but it will be his father, the King, who will close the act with the solemn speech - with an intervention of about 20 minutes. Therefore, it is expected that the words of the Princess are symbolic, and the political and institutional burden is assumed by the King, especially with the conflict situation in Catalonia , which has not yet been pronounced. Who, in any case, responds to the secessionist challenge will be Felipe VI.

Precisely in 1981 one of the protocol headaches was that the Prince's intervention would not be unbalanced compared to those of the winners. "The most complicated thing was to mark the times of those who intervened. That they did not become long, especially since the Prince spoke little and it was not convenient that there was much disproportion," recalls Fuente Lafuente.

"The intervention of the then Prince was a dream of freedom. It was innovative and brave. It was the year of the coup attempt. It was not easy," recalls Graciano García , founder of the Prince of Asturias Awards Foundation and director emeritus emeritus. "He said what he had to do. A message that was not conflictive. He was 13 years old, he could not make an intellectual intervention like those he does now. The news was already speaking. His role, and today Leonor's, is that of the earning people's love, "explains Fuente Lafuente.

The experts consulted point out that in that little more than a minute and a half, Felipe VI made some pronunciation mistakes, but he did it with "dignity." "Don Felipe was somewhat nervous and rehearsed several times in his room at the Reconquista Hotel before heading to the Campoamor Theater. He preferred to write in his own handwriting what was going to be his first public speech. Our advice was, before his nervousness about the The number of people in the theater, who didn't care if they were ten to thirty thousand. All he had to worry about was to read slowly, pronounce well and take the necessary breaks, which he had marked with a stroke or black bar in the right place. ", summarized José Antonio Alcina , preceptor of the King for almost a decade (1983-1994) in his book Felipe VI. The formation of a King (The Sphere of the Books).

The Monarch himself, then Prince, recounts in the book that collects his speeches in these 38 years that he recalls the "brevity of my first public speech and the restlessness with which I read it."

The then Prince Felipe reads his first speech at the Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony of 1981.

Restlessness that will travel through his body again. The Monarch confesses nervously about the debut of the Princess, a fact that reminds him that afternoon of October 3, 1981. Queen Letizia opposes her tranquility and that of the Princess. This is how they define their mood: "Illusioned."

"This year the princess is finally coming and the focus is more intense. Her presence implies a line of continuity," says Teresa Sanjurjo , director of the Princess of Asturias Foundation. "These awards, Oviedo and Asturias have a historical connection with the Crown and the presence of the Princess is another step in that line of continuity." Because as happened with Felipe VI, beyond the symbolic fact of the first speech, the moment in which it occurs is transcendental. The heir, and this Friday the heiress, take the witness in a complex situation, as a sign of the Crown's bet, in delicate contexts, for his claim to permanence and constitutional commitment. And they do it under the tutelage of the Monarch, at their side, with the purpose of learning and maturing their formation.

"It is inevitable that the Foundation will pay the price for Princess Leonor to hide everything, it is the price of the transition. The important thing is to leave her alone, not to focus everything on how she is dressed. The important thing is if she has charisma, if hook, because we will listen to it for the first time, "concludes Fuente Lafuente.

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  • Philip VI
  • Catalonia
  • Prince Philip
  • Queen Letizia
  • Princess Leonor
  • Spain
  • theater

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