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The King is presented with ceremonial sceptre during military celebration

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Number: 4797

The King during his speech in Madrid

The King during his speech in Madrid (Photo: MINISDEF)

The ‘bengala’ His Majesty was presented with

The ‘bengala’ His Majesty was presented with (Photo: MINISDEF)

Celebration of the ‘Pascua Militar’ in Valencia

Celebration of the ‘Pascua Militar’ in Valencia (Photo: CGTAD)

King Felipe VI was presented with a ‘bengala’, a ceremonial sceptre which symbolises supreme command over the three branches of the Armed Forces, during the ceremony held to mark the ‘Pascua Militar’ at the Palacio Real in Madrid on 6 January.

The piece, handcrafted in cherry wood and silver gilt, was ordered by the Chief of the Army Staff, Army General Jaime Domínguez Buj. However, the honour of presenting it to the King fell to the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Admiral Fernando García Sánchez. “It is a symbol I am proud to receive for what it represents,” stated Felipe VI as he received the sceptre.

The King pronounced a speech before dignitaries, representatives of the different military commissions and nearly twenty soldiers he had just decorated. He highlighted the role of the Armed Forces and the Civil Guard in the defence of rights and freedoms in Spain and abroad, stating that it is “a defence based on our faith in the inalienable democratic values we embrace and champion with determination and courage.”

He also stressed the “efficiency and professionalism” Spanish soldiers display when fulfilling their duties, which earn them “the respect and appreciation” of the armies they collaborate with and of all the people who benefit from their “outstanding” work.

The King also remembered those posted in missions abroad, who “are an example of patriotism, solidarity and commitment to the peace and security of those they are helping.”

Acting government

The ‘Pascua Militar’ marks the start of the military year and represents an occasion to look back on the past year and set out the main lines of action for the next. Exceptionally, on this occasion the ceremony was held by an acting government. The speech of the acting Defence minister, Pedro Morenés, focused on the activities of the past year, particularly the participation of the Armed Forces in the fight against terrorism.

The attendees then went from the Gasparini Room to the Hall of Columns, where they had the occasion to greet Don Felipe and Doña Letizia. That marked the end of a ceremony which had begun at Plaza de la Armería, where the monarchs had received military honours upon their arrival and the King had inspected the troops.

An 18th century tradition

The ‘Pascua Militar’ was also marked at many other locations throughout Spain, where it was presided over by their respective commanders on behalf of the King; among them, the Land Force HQ in Seville, the High Readiness Forces (Land) HQ in Valencia, the General Commands in the Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, the Army General Inspectorate in Barcelona, the Operational Logistic Force HQ in A Coruña and Canary Islands Command in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Those ceremonies also included the decoration of personnel who distinguished themselves the previous year.

The ‘Pascua Militar’ was established by Charles III of Spain to commemorate the recapture of Mahón from the British on 6 January 1782, which meant that Spain regained sovereignty over Menorca.