The Kings lived yesterday a day of great contrasts. First they visited the Virgin of El Rocío in Almonte (Huelva), and then they commemorated in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz) the fifth centenary of the first round the world, and in both locations they received tremendous baths of affection from an enthusiastic Andalusian public .
And, between the two visits, they enjoyed relative peace and solitude – appropriate for Valentine’s Day – in the Doñana National Park, where they walked through their dunes and marshes, and were able to observe countless animals. So many, that seemed on purpose for the royal visit. And it is that cows, mares, fallow deer, deer, black turtles, flamingos, wild boars, storks, ducks, seagulls and ibis, among other specimens, came out, as in the movie «The Lion King», to the passage of Don Felipe and Doña Letizia , who first visited Doñana as Reyes.
Before, in the morning, they attended a scientific congress in Almonte, where they received first-hand information about the natural park, which has just turned fifty years old and, before touring Doñana, they visited the Virgen del Rocío, which passes every seven years Nine months in this location. There they received an impressive welcome, with lively, flags of Spain, ringing of bells, music and much, many, enthusiastic people. The Kings came to the so-called “ephemeral cathedral”, installed before the parish of the Assumption, which was packed with almonteños.
High patriotic burden
In the temple, the Choir of the Matrix Brotherhood sang the “Salve Rociera,” and the president of the brotherhood shouted alive to the Virgin, the King and Spain. Afterwards, the Kings went on to touch the mantle of the Virgin and, before leaving Almonte, they received some very special gifts: two different editions of «Platero y yo», by Juan Ramón Jiménez, for the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofía, and another book for them, also by Juan Ramón Jimenez, “Diary of a newly married poet”, coinciding with Valentine’s Day. In addition, they received a facsimile of the Voto del Rocío Chico, from 1813, which has a high patriotic burden because it was done in thanksgiving to the Virgin after the expulsion of the French.
After lunch in private, the Kings changed their clothes and toured Doñana aboard one of those off-road buses used by tourists. Accompanied by the president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, and the Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, the Kings crossed the park and headed to Vera del Puntal, where they contemplated some species of marshland through telescopes. Until then, they were also accompanied by businessman Mauricio González-Gordon, president of Gonzalez Byass, and his wife, Cristina Luque. Afterwards, the Kings continued to Cerro de los Ánsares, where they walked through the sand dunes and enjoyed a unique landscape and an ideal temperature, before crossing the park to Malandar Beach, where they crossed the Gualdalquivir aboard a ship -La Olga- and landed on the beach of Bajo de Guía, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where there were thousands of people waiting for their arrival for hours. There they were waiting for the vice president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juan Marín. In the so-called “zero league” of the first round the world, the Kings commemorated the fifth centenary of the greatest nautical feat in the history of mankind. And it is that from that same beach 234 men and five ships left in 1519, and three years later, only a ship with 18 survivors returned. They were hungry, sick and exhausted, but they had managed to perform the enormous feat of going around the world for the first time. An epic of which Don Felipe feels very proud, as Spanish, as sailor and as King. .