Banners included "Death to the Bourbon (monarchy)," "Barcelona will be the nightmare of Felipe VI" and "The Spanish king is not welcome in Catalonia."
Thousands of demonstrators banged on kitchen pots and chanted "Catalonia has no king!" on Monday to protest a visit by the Spanish royal family to the capital of the region that has been rocked by weeks of pro-independence demonstrations.
Attended by King Felipe, his wife Queen Letizia and two daughters, the venue of the Princess of Girona young talent awards ceremony in Barcelona were heavily guarded by police who had installed heavy fences and blocked one of the city's main thoroughfares with vans.
Some protesters burned pictures of the king and threw paint at riot police. Dolors Aguilera, 70, said the king's presence in Barcelona was a provocation. "We have political prisoners in jail. We cannot accept it," she said to reporters. "We have become republican because Madrid treats us like a colony," said Aguilera's husband Antoni Gonzalez, a 68-year old pensioner, who had brought a whistle for the protest.
"The king aligned himself with the police who beat those who came to vote," said 45-year-old business manager Jose Ligero, referring to the fact that the king did not mention any police violence in his speech.
"We are demonstrating so that the king does not come back to Catalonia, even more so after the totally unjust sentence handed to the separatist politicians."
"Nowadays, there can be no space for violence, intolerance or disregard for the rights and freedoms of others", King Felipe said.
The mass protests were triggered by the Spanish Supreme Court's sentencing of nine pro-independence leaders on Oct. 14 to prison terms of between nine and 13 years on charges of sedition for their role in Catalonia's failed independence bid in 2017.
The rekindled Catalonia crisis has also further complicated Spain's fragmented political environment as preparations are being made for its fourth election in as many years on Sunday after having been without a proper government for months.