You are in:

State tribute presided over by the King and Queen of Spain at the Royal Palace

Spain pays tribute to the victims of the pandemic as well as honouring and recognising health workers in a State Tribute focusing on hope

Plaza de la Armería of the Royal Palace, Madrid, Friday 16 July 2021

The King and Queen of Spain presided over the ceremony, which boasted the head of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, all members of the Government except the Minister for Home Affairs, senior state authorities, presidents of Spain´s regions and autonomous cities, diplomatic representatives and representatives of civil society among its many illustrious attendees.

Relatives of the 102 health workers who have died since the beginning of the pandemic attended the event, making their way to Madrid from all parts of the country. Surgeon María Díaz Diñeiro, daughter of Joaquín Díaz Domínguez, head of the Surgery Department at La Paz Hospital (Madrid), spoke on her father´s behalf.

Also present at the tribute were the first vaccinated people from various regions in Spain, serving as a symbol of hope offered by science and vaccination, as well as the courage of the group most affected by death during the pandemic. The first person to be vaccinated in Spain, 97-year-old Araceli Hidalgo, was present and part of the tribute as well.

Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaDuring the ceremony, the King presented the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit to four health workers, on behalf of all of their colleagues. In addition to Dr Joaquín Díaz Domínguez, honours were also bestowed upon Dr Jesús Algaba, the oldest deceased health professional, an international reference in his field who was working until the very end; nursing assistant Pablo Riesgo, the youngest of the honourees, who died at the age of 26; and Dr Nedialka Veleva, who was born in Bulgaria but worked in Spain for most of her professional career.

In his speech, Felipe VI expressed the recognition and "infinite gratitude" of Spanish society towards the health professionals who lost their lives in order "to save many others". The King reminded everybody of the need and necessity to maintain health precautions and highlighted the hope provided by advances in scientific and medical research.

The remaining Grand Crosses of Civil Merit awarded posthumously were presented to the families by the King in a private ceremony at the Royal Palace.

The beautiful tribute, conducted by the journalist Fernando Ónega, included the participation of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Radio Televisión Española and the Coro Intergeneracional del Orfeón Pamplonés.

Non official translation