A patient police dog joined 4,000 participants in the Fiesta Nacional parade on Wednesday morning. / EP

Spain's military parade for 12 October returns to normal after Covid-19

The late arrival of the Prime Minister at Wednesday's event raised some eyebrows but it failed to prevent the customary booing of him by the crowd

NEIL HESKETH MALAGA.

The 12 October military parade took place in Madrid on Wednesday this week. It was the first time the annual event had been held in its full-scale format for three years, after scaled-down versions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 12 October holiday, originally marking the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, is these days know either as the Fiesta Nacional or Día de la Hispanidad (day of the Hispanic peoples). The largest event to mark the occasion is the parade along the capital's Paseo de la Castellana. Some 4,000 military and security forces personnel took part along with 100 vehicles, 37 motorbikes, 26 helicopters and 58 planes.

Both the King and Queen were in attendance on Wednesday morning along with their younger daughter, Sofía. Their eldest daughter, Crown Princess Leonor, is away at boarding school in Wales.

There were worried faces ahead of the start as top politicians and officials lined up to watch it. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had still not arrived by the time the royal car pulled up.

After about a minute of nervous waiting, the PM slipped into the lineup and the King and Queen could get out of their vehicle.

It has become customary at this event, which is always watched by a fervently patriotic crowd, for the sitting PM to be booed loudly at the start if they are from the Socialist party. This was no exception yesterday and commentators suggested Sánchez had delayed his arrival to avoid the worst of it. The PM's office brushed off the criticism, explaining that he had arrived at the time he was told to.

The parade was followed by a lunchtime reception for 2,500 people at the Royal Palace.