MADRID – At the Royal Palace in Madrid on Thursday, Spain’s King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Letizia paid tribute and commemorated all citizens and health care workers who died, often in solitude, during the corona pandemic.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of all Spanish state powers, regional presidents and leaders of the opposition parties. María Díaz Diñeiro, daughter of the head of Surgery at La Paz Hospital who died as a result of Covid-19, and 97-year-old Araceli Hidalgo, who was the first to be vaccinated in Spain were also in attendance.
“I am here today because my father is gone”
Diñeiro opened the ceremony on the Patio de la Armería with the words “I am here today because my father is gone. As well as the sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters of people who attend this tribute. We couldn’t give each other last hugs or hold hands. We couldn’t say goodbye. Yet, like many other covid patients, he was not alone. Until his death, he was accompanied by doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers”. With this, Diñeiro expressed her thanks to all healthcare professionals who have shown their extraordinary commitment during the pandemic.
The king also mentioned the exceptional commitment of all healthcare workers in his speech. “They have worked tirelessly and with complete dedication in a crisis situation, when no one had yet been vaccinated. They have tried to treat and rescue as many people as possible. An indelible impression has been made on each of us,” said the king.
“For Those Who Died in Solitude”
The king drew special attention to ‘all people who died in loneliness’. And the loss of so many elderly people to whom we owe so much. “There are no words that can offer real comfort for this immense loss and the void left by our loved ones,” said the king.
Furthermore, the Spanish head of state emphasised to 700 people during the ceremony that the fight against the pandemic is not yet over and that giving up is not an option: “We fight on day and night and more and more people are vaccinated in the interest of of us all”.
Order of Civil Merit
Since March 2020, 125 healthcare professionals have died as a result of Covid-19. During the ceremony, relatives of these victims were awarded the Order of Civil Merit by the king. A minute of silence was then held and a floral tribute followed.
The ceremony was attended by Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez and his ministers, except for the Foreign Minister who was absent for European consultations. Notable absentees were the regional president of Catalonia Pere Aragonés, the regional president of the Basque Country Iñigo Urkullu and the regional president of Extremadura Fernández Vara. Party leader Santiago Abascal of Vox also ignored the invitation to the tribute, just like last year.
The tribute at the Royal Palace can be seen here.