Catalan crisis looms large at Spanish prize-giving event

The Catalonia region’s controversial bid for independence has been an unavoidable topic at the prize-giving ceremony for Spain’s prestigious Princess of Asturias awards.

Spain’s King Felipe VI received a standing ovation Friday night after saying in his speech that Catalonia “is and will be an essential part” of Spain.

European leaders also made indirect comments Friday about the independence issue, which has brought a tense confrontation between Catalan secessionists and the Spanish government.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker were in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo to receive a prize on behalf of the European Union. They made clear their recent support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, receiving loud applause at the Campoamor theater in the Asturias region.