The 2013 winners of Spain's Prince of Asturias Awards received their prizes Friday from Crown Prince Felipe in a ceremony in this northern city.
Felipe, who was joined at the ceremony at Oviedo's Campoamor Theater by his wife, Princess Letizia, and mother, Queen Sofia, praised this year's honorees for their "sense of responsibility" and also used the occasion to try to lift the spirits of his countrymen.
Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke (Arts), Dutch-American sociologist Saskia Sassen (Social Sciences), U.S. photographer Annie Leibovitz (Communications and Humanities), British physicist Peter Higgs, Belgian physicist François Englert and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Technical and Scientific Research), and the Max Planck Society (International Cooperation) received their respective awards from the Spanish crown prince.
Also picking up their awards on Friday were Spanish author Antonio Muñoz Molina (Literature), Spanish golfer Jose Maria Olazabal (Sports) and the National Organization of Spanish Blind People (Concord).
In his speech, Felipe delivered a message of encouragement and optimism to those suffering from a years-long economic crisis in Spain, urging citizens to engage in "rigorous reflection" so the country "never again falls into unacceptable errors and excesses" and to carve out a future based on "strong ethical principles."
A long construction and property boom had made the country's economy the envy of most of Madrid's European partners, but that growth model proved to be unsustainable.
The collapse of the real-estate bubble aggravated the effects of the global recession and sent Spain, which now has an unemployment rate of more than 26 percent, into a severe economic tailspin.
Muñoz Molina also referred to Spain's crisis during his speech, saying the country has been "devastated" by the crisis and lamenting that those responsible for the economic woes have gone unpunished "while their victims receive no justice."
Along with a cash prize of 50,000 euros (about $66,600) and a sculpture by Joan Miro, each award winner received a diploma and an insignia bearing the Prince of Asturias Foundation's coat of arms.
The prizes are regarded as the Ibero-American world's equivalent of the Nobels. EFE