In a televised address, Spain's King Felipe VI on Tuesday accused Catalan secessionist leaders of shattering democratic principles and dividing Catalan society, as thousands took to the streets to protest against a violent police crackdown against the banned independence referendum held on Sunday. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Spain's King Felipe VI on Tuesday accused Catalan secessionist leaders of shattering democratic principles and dividing Catalan society, as thousands took to the streets to protest against a violent police crackdown against the banned independence referendum held on Sunday. The televised speech, a rare intervention by the 49-year-old monarch who is normally silent on politics, was a sign of how deeply Spain has been shaken by the Catalan vote and a police crackdown that injured 900 people. On Tuesday tens of thousands of Catalans demonstrated in the streets of the northeastern region against action by the police who tried to disrupt Sunday's vote by firing rubber bullets and charging into crowds with truncheons. Tuesday's protests shut down road traffic, public transport and businesses. The referendum and its aftermath have plunged Spain into its worst constitutional crisis in decades, and are a political test for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a conservative who has taken a hard line stance on the issue. Late Tuesday Catalonia's leader, Carles Puigdemont, told the BBC that the region will declare independence in a matter of days. Pro-independence parties who control the regional government staged Sunday's referendum in defiance of the Constitutional Court, which had ruled that the vote violated Spain's 1978 constitution which states the country is indivisible. Catalonia, Spain's richest region, has its own language and culture and a political movement for secession that has strengthened in recent years. Those who participated in Sunday's ballot voted overwhelmingly for independence, a result that was expected since residents who favour remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the referendum. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said the result is valid and must be implemented. Outside of Catalonia, Spaniards mostly hold strong views against its independence drive. In his televised address, the king said the "irresponsible behaviour" of the Catalan leaders had undermined social harmony in the region.