In his Christmas message King Felipe VI has supported the need for all institutions to comply with and respect the law, saying that they need to be “an example of public and moral integrity,” this at a time when all eyes are focused on the possible return to Spain of his father, Don Juan Carlos.

But there was no direct reference to his 83 year old father, the King Emeritus Juan Carlos I, who went into exile, moving to the United Arab Emirates last year after accusations into his possible financial wrongdoings emerged.

Addressing the nation in a pre-recorded broadcast on Christmas Eve, the monarch said that a successful vaccine rollout has improved the situation from what it was a year ago, but he urged people not to become complacent or to drop their guard.

As infections in the country climbed to a yet another record on Friday, the King said that the public should remain cautious as the coronavirus can still inflict widespread damage.

The challenges that the pandemic has brought with it pose a “real crossroads” for Spain but also “a historic opportunity” to “update and modernise our country,” he said, stressing that institutions have a great “responsibility” in this role.

“We all have to do everything possible so that we don’t take backward steps in this health crisis that has caused so much suffering,” Felipe said.

With the country experiencing a record peak in contagion over the festive period, at a time when families traditionally hold large gatherings, King Felipe warned that we must not lower our guard yet because “the risk has not disappeared.”

“We must continue to be careful, protect ourselves and act with the greatest individual and collective responsibility,” he warned, before remembering all the victims of Covid-19 and recognising the fundamental role that health personnel have played in the health crisis.

The king also remembered residents of the Spanish island of La Palma, where an ongoing volcanic eruption has destroyed houses, infrastructure and crops.

“Today our hearts and our thoughts remain with you,” the monarch told islanders.

Watching the king’s annual appearance on television just before Christmas Eve dinner is an annual ritual in many Spanish households. In recent years, as scandals tied to the royal family have regularly featured in the press, media commentators and politicians scrutinised his speech searching for signs of the monarch’s awareness to the mood of his subjects.

A transcript of King Felipe’s speech in full follows below:

I want to dedicate my first words this Christmas Eve to those of you who live on the island of La Palma and have been going through such a painful and difficult situation for three months. The volcano has left many of you homeless, without a livelihood, and it has filled all of us with sadness.

Today our heart and our thoughts continue with you. We feel very close and you know that you have our solidarity and that you count on the work and commitment of all the Administrations so that you can rebuild, as soon as possible, your lives, your economy, and thus redo your projects with enthusiasm.

Last year, in my Christmas message, I shared with you the need to make a great collective effort that would allow us to overcome COVID-19, with the hope of science and especially vaccines.

A year later – and always with all the necessary caution – the situation is different. We have made substantial progress in the fight against the pandemic thanks to the discovery and authorization of vaccines, the large number of Spaniards who have been vaccinated as well as the vaccination process itself in our country, of which we can feel especially satisfied.

Even so, we are seeing that the virus still has the ability to harm us, in many ways. It is transmitted again very quickly and, therefore, the risk has not disappeared. On the contrary. Therefore, we must continue to be careful, protect ourselves and act with the greatest individual and collective responsibility. We all have to do everything possible to avoid taking steps back from this health crisis that has caused so much suffering; and whose victims we remember, especially, on these dates. And again to the health personnel – at this time – we thank them immense, with all our support and encouragement.

Also in this last year, many citizens continue to suffer the social, economic and emotional consequences derived from the pandemic. On the one hand, our economy has grown again and has recovered the vast majority of jobs that had been temporarily suspended; and the number of employed is evolving at a really positive rate. But on the other hand, the number of people in vulnerable situations has increased, and today there is concern in many households about the rise in prices, the cost of energy or the difficulties in finding a stable job, especially for young people. .

And together with all this, it is true that in the world it is a fact that countries depend more and more on each other; and that global solutions are required for many of the challenges we share, such as health, which requires more effective and strengthened international collaboration.

Also, new technologies are changing the traditional modes of production of companies and therefore influence the very concept of work, as we have always known it; science advances, and for the better, but it is modifying many aspects of our personal and community lives. At the same time, we observe how, on occasions, our convictions, our values ​​are put to the test or our principles of social organization and coexistence in freedom are affected.

These are some examples of the challenges that lie ahead and that show the difficult times that we live in; times that force us to remain very alert in a scenario, undoubtedly full of uncertainties and contrasts.

Faced with this situation, what to do? Do we have to let ourselves be carried away by pessimism? Should we fall into conformism, hoping that problems will resolve themselves? I do not think so.

I believe, on the contrary, that we must react: We must understand and assume the new transformations that – so rapidly – we are experiencing, take the initiative and try to stay ahead of events; and we must also adapt quickly to changes, always being clear about our great objectives and priorities as a country. Because it is also a time of new projects, of new ideas and opportunities; of initiatives full of ambition to improve and progress.

We all want an economically and socially advanced society, with stable and dignified employment, and a solid Welfare State; We want a society that continues to promote equality between men and women, that favors individual and social progress; and we aspire — of course — to be at the forefront of technology, innovation, at the forefront of the fight against climate change and fully committed to the sustainability of our planet and its environmental balance.

I sincerely believe that the challenges that lie ahead represent for Spain, as for many other nations, a real crossroads; but they are undoubtedly a historic opportunity, even a requirement to catch up, to update and modernize our country, remaining firm in our democratic principles and in the values ​​that inspire our coexistence. Because in what we do or decide from now on, it is at stake that we can continue to progress together with the most advanced nations or that we lose step on our way.

And in this great task, the institutions have the greatest responsibility. We must always bear in mind the general interests and think about citizens, their concerns, their concerns, be permanently at their service and attend to their problems. We must be in the place that constitutionally corresponds to us; assume, each one, the obligations that we have entrusted; respect and comply with the laws and be an example of public and moral integrity.

For all this, understanding and collaboration are necessary attitudes that dignify institutions; moreover, they strengthen them, because they generate the trust of citizens. And differences of opinion should not prevent consensus that guarantees greater stability, greater well-being in homes and give families the necessary peace of mind about their future.

But undoubtedly, society also has an essential role to play in these times of change. The circumstances, many of them not easy at all, that we have had to live through, especially over the past 40 years, have forged us as a strong and responsible society; and enormously supportive, as we have seen since the beginning of this pandemic. It is our civic values, together with the talent, vitality and energy that we have in industry, services or the field, which must be very present in the construction of our future.

If we know where we want to go, we must also be aware of where we come from:

The profound change in Spain in these more than four decades of democracy and freedom has been extraordinary, and it has not been the result of chance. It has been based on the effort and sacrifice of many people, millions of Spaniards. And it has been due to many reasons: sense of history, great agreements, generosity, responsibility and vision of the future.

This great project of transformation is symbolized and represented by our Constitution, with which we fully integrate into modern Western democracies and whose spirit calls us to unity in the face of division, dialogue and not confrontation, respect in the face of resentment, integrating spirit in the face of exclusion; It permanently summons us to a civic, serene and free coexistence.

The Constitution has been and is the main beam that has favored our progress, the one that has sustained our democratic coexistence in the face of serious and serious crises of different nature, which we have experienced, and therefore deserves respect, recognition and loyalty.

And our future as a country goes very hand in hand with the European Union; that is how the majority of Spaniards understand it. Europe was an aspiration and a goal, and today it is a great political, economic, social and cultural reality, in which we share with our European national partners the same democratic values ​​that offer us an institutional framework of stability, security, and trust. . And also of new opportunities.

We have seen how the fight against the pandemic, with all its complexity, has strengthened the Union itself, which has made very important – unprecedented – commitments in health, the economy and employment. And now the Union opens up to the opportunity to invest European funds in the modernization of our country and of our companies, in an economy that is necessarily increasingly digital, greener and more inclusive. It is a unique occasion that we cannot miss.

The moment is difficult, of course, but to stop today is to be left behind; is to go back. We must move on because history teaches us that we Spaniards have known how to react and overcome adversity. Now a future is opening up before us that demands responsibility ─from all of us─, a willingness to collaborate and understand each other; and it needs – that future – that we trust more in our own forces as a Nation. And I have no doubt of our commitment, of our ability; and that, with determination, with drive and character, we will achieve it.

I will not extend any more, but let us remember that tonight there are also many people watching over our health, our safety and tranquility, and guaranteeing public services … All of them deserve our recognition and that we keep them especially present on these dates.

Thank you for your attention; and with the peace and joy that this night represents, together with the Queen and our daughters Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía, I wish you all have a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Eguberri On, Bon Nadal, Boas Festas.