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Ministry of Defence

Ejército de Tierra


The Constitution and the Armed Forces

ARTICLES 1 and 2:

Article 1.

  • Spain is hereby established as a social and democratic State, subject to the rule of law, which advocates freedom, justice, equality and political pluralism as highest values of its legal system .
  • National sovereignty belongs to the Spanish people, from whom all state powers emanate.
  • The political form of the Spanish State is the Parliamentary Monarchy.

Article 2.

  • The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards; it recognizes and guarantees the right to self-government of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity among them all.



Article 8.

  1. The mission of the Armed Forces, comprising the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, is to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain and to defend its territorial integrity and the constitutional order.
  2. The basic structure of military organization shall be regulated by an Organic Act in accordance with the principles of the present Constitution. 

Article 28.

  1. All have the right to freely join a trade union. The law may restrict or except the exercise of this right in the Armed Forces or Institutes or other bodies subject to military discipline, and shall lay down the special conditions of its exercise by civil servants. Trade union freedom includes the right to set up trade unions and to join the union of one's choice, as well as the right of trade unions to form confederations and to found international trade union organizations, or to become members thereof. No one may be compelled to join a trade union.

Article 29.

  1. All Spaniards shall have the right to individual and collective petition, in writing, in the manner and subject to the consequences to be laid down by law.
  2. Members of the Armed Forces or Institutes or bodies subject to military discipline may only exercise this right individually and in accordance with statutory provisions relating to them. 

Article 30.

  1. Citizens have the right and the duty to defend Spain.
  2. The law shall determine the military obligations of Spaniards and shall regulate, with all due guarantees, conscientious objection as well as other grounds for exemption from compulsory military service; it may also, when appropriate, impose a community service in place of military service.
  3. A civilian service may be established with a view to accomplishing objectives of general interest.
  4. The duties of citizens in the event of serious risk, catastrophe or public calamity may be regulated by law.


Article 55. 

  1. The rights recognized in sections 17 and 18, subsections 2 and 3, sections 19 and 20, subsection 1, paragraphs a) and d), and subsection 5; sections 21 and 28, subsection 2, and section 37, subsection 2, may be suspended when a state of emergency or siege (martial law) is declared under the terms provided in the Constitution. Subsection 3 of section 17 is excepted from the foregoing provisions in the event of the declaration of a state of emergency.
  2. An organic act may determine the manner and the circumstances in which, on an individual basis and with the necessary participation of the courts and proper parliamentary control, the rights recognized in section 17, subsection 2, and 18, subsections 2 and 3, may be suspended for specific persons in connection with investigations of the activities of armed bands or terrorist groups.

Article 62.

  • It is incumbent upon the King:

             h) To exercise supreme command of the Armed Forces.

Article 63.

  1. It is incumbent upon the King, following authorization by the Cortes Generales, to declare war and to make peace.

Article 65. 

  1. The King receives an overall amount from the State Budget for the maintenance of his Family and Household and distributes it freely.
  2. The King freely appoints and dismisses civil and military members of his Household. 


Article 70.

  1. The Electoral Act shall establish grounds for ineligibility and incompatibility for Members of Congress and Senators, which shall in any case include those who are:

             e)  Professional soldiers and members of the Security and Police Forces and Corps in active service.

Article 94.

  1. The giving of the consent of the State to enter any commitment by means of treaty or agreement, shall require prior authorization of the Cortes Generales in the following cases:

              b) Treaties or agreements of a military nature.

Article 97.

  • The Government shall conduct domestic and foreign policy, civil and military administration and the defence of the State. It exercises executive authority and the power of statutory regulations in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.

Article 104.

  1. The Security Forces and Corps serving under the Government shall have the duty to protect the free exercise of rights and freedoms and to guarantee the safety of citizens.
  2. An organic act shall specify the duties, basic principles of action and statutes of the Security Forces and Corps.


Article 116.

  1.  An organic act shall make provision for the states of alarm, emergency and siege (martial law) and the powers and restrictions attached to each of them.
  2.  A state of alarm shall be proclaimed by the Government, by means of a decree agreed in Council of Ministers, for a maximum period of fifteen days. The Congress shall be informed and must meet immediately, and without its authorization the said period may not be extended. The decree shall specify the territory to which the effects of the proclamation apply.
  3. A state of emergency shall be proclaimed by the Government by decree agreed in Council of Ministers, after prior authorization by the Congress. The authorization for and proclamation of a state of emergency must specifically state the effects thereof, the territory to which it is to apply and its duration, which may not exceed thirty days, subject to extension for a further thirty-day period, with the same requirements.
  4. A state of siege (martial law) shall be proclaimed by overall majority of Congress solely on the Government's proposal. Congress shall determine its territorial extension, duration and terms.

Article 117.

  1. Justice emanates from the people and is administered on behalf of the King by judges and magistrates members of the Judicial Power who shall be independent, shall have fixity of tenure, shall be accountable for their acts and subject only to the rule of law.

Article 149.

  1. The State shall have exclusive competence over the following matters:

    4ª Defence and the Armed Forces.


Flag of Spain:

Flag of Spain

 Article 4 of the Constitution states:

The Flag of Spain is formed by three horizontal stripes, red, yellow and red, the yellow one being twice as wide as each of the red ones.

Statutes may recognise flags and ensigns of the Autonomous Communities themselves. These will be employed along side the Spanish flag at their public building and at official ceremonies.


The National Arms of Spain:

Coat of Arms of Spain

The Spanish coat of arms is quarterly and enté en point. In the left upper quadrant, Gules or red, a gold castle, battlemented, rinsed in azure or blue and masoned in black Sable. In the right upper quadrant, Argent, a lion rampant, Purpure, langued, hooved with claws gules and crowned or. In the left lower quadrant, or, four pallets a cross, saltire and orle of chains linked together or, charged in the centre with a Vert or green emerald. Enté en point, silver, a pomegranate, cracked gules or red, stemmed and two-leafed vert...

On both sides of the shield ,two pillars of Hercules, silver, with base and capitel or, over waves azure or blue and silver, the right topped with an imperial crown, and the left with a royal crown, both or, encircling the pillars, a ribbon gules or red, charged with letters or, on the right "PLVS" and on the left "VLTRA"..

The Arms carries azure or blue, three fleurs de lis, 2 and 1, bordure gules or red of the reigning dynasty..

On top of the shield rests the royal crown, closed, a circle of gold, set with precious stones, composed of eight fleurons acanthus leafed, five visible, interpolated with pearls and whose leaves, each with a pearl tiara, converge on an azure or blue world, with centre and cross or, the crown lined in red.

(Regulated by Law 33-1981, of the 5th of October).



(Published in the Official State Bulletin (BOE) no. 244, of 11th October 1997)

In accordance with the provisions in article 97 of the Law on National Heritage, of 15th April 1964, and those in article 43 of the Law on Intellectual Property, of 12th April 1996, Royal Decree 1543/1997, of 3rd October, stipulated the exclusive acquisition by the State of the exploitation rights of the work traditionally known as "Grenadier March" or "Royal Spanish March".

 Given the nature of this work, it is advisable to regulate, in a like manner, its character and its use as the national anthem of Spain, to establish formally the official score, its different versions and the types of performance.

In virtue of this, at the President of the Government's proposal and previous deliberation by the Cabinet of Ministers on the 10th October 1997,


Article 1.

The national anthem of Spain is the work traditionally known as "Grenadier March" or "Royal Spanish March". Its official score will be the one that appears in the annex of this Royal Decree.

Article 2.

The national anthem of Spain will be interpreted according to the following guidelines:

a) Technically it will consist of one sixteen bar phrase, divided into two sections, each of which having four repeated bars. The metronomic indication will be one quarter note equal to seventy-six and the tonality of B flat major. Its durations will be fifty-two seconds for the complete version and twenty-seven seconds for the short version.

b) The short version is understood to be the performance of the four bars of each section, without repetition.

c) The scores for band, orchestra and reduction for organ are those contained in the annex of this Royal Decree and will serve as reference for any chamber group version.

d) The national anthem of Spain, in any of its versions, will always be performed in its entirety and once only.

Article 3.

The national anthem will be performed, when appropriate:

1. In the complete version:

a) At ceremonies and events in tribute to the Spanish Flag.

b) At official ceremonies and events attended by His Majesty the King or Her Majesty the Queen.

c) At official ceremonies and events attended by the Queen consort or the Prince consort.

d) At the other ceremonies and events foreseen in the Regulation of Military Honours.

2. In the short version:

a) At official ceremonies attended by His Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias, Her Royal Highness the Princess of Asturias or Their Royal Highnesses the Princesses and Princes of Spain.

b)At official events attended by the President of the Government.

c)At sporting events or those of any other nature in which there is an official Spanish representation.

d) In the other cases foreseen in the Regulation of Military Honours.

Article 4.

The respectful attitude toward the national anthem by those attending the ceremonies and events at which it is performed will be expressed, in the case of uniformed Armed Forces personnel and those of the Security Forces, by making the regulation salute.

Article 5.

In accordance with custom and the habitual uses established by protocol, when Members of the Royal Family or Authorities referred to in article 3 of this Royal Decree attend official ceremonies and events of a general character, organised by an Autonomous Community or Municipal Government, provided the nature of the ceremony or event requires the performance of the national anthem, this will be performed according to the following criteria:

a) When playing the official anthems of Autonomous Communities or municipal governments is foreseen at the beginning of the ceremony or event, the national anthem of Spain will be performed first.

b) On those occasions in which playing the above mentioned anthems is foreseen at the end of the event or ceremony, the national anthem of Spain will be performed last.

Article 6.

1. At ceremonies and events and on official visits of an international character held in Spain, when national anthems must be played, first will be performed the foreign national anthems and afterwards the national anthem of Spain. At farewells, they will be performed in reverse order. The same order will be followed on official visits of foreign war ships.

2. At foreign ports, aboard Spanish Navy ships, first the national anthem of Spain will be performed, followed by that of the host nation.

3. In any case, the performance of foreign national anthems will always be accompanied by the national anthem of Spain.

First transitory regulation. 

1. Within the period of two months from the publication of this Royal Decree, the various bodies and institutions, both public and private, will adapt the performance of the Spanish national anthem to the official score.

2. During the period indicated, the forms and duration times of the performance of the national anthem may be adjusted to the current version until the present Royal Decree comes into effect, or where appropriate, to that established by custom.

Second transitory regulation.

Until both the Regulation of Military Honours, and to the effects foreseen in article 3 of this Royal Decree, the references that the mentioned Regulation contains to the "complete national anthem" and "the complete first part" are modified, these references will be understood to be made to the complete version. Likewise, the references of the same regulation to the "first part without repetition" will be understood to be made to the short version.

Sole repealing provision.

The Royal Order circular of 27th August 1908, which refers to the performance of the Royal March is repealed, as well as the Decree of 17th July 1942, on the national anthem and any provisions which oppose that which is established by this Royal Decree.

Sole final provision.

The present Royal Decree will come into force on the same day of its publication in the "Official State Bulletin" (BOE).

Delivered in Madrid on 10th October 1997.


The President of the Government,




Art. 8. Constitutional Law 6/1980, of the 1st of July, on Basic Criteria for National Defence and Military Organisation, modified by Constitutional Law 1/1984, of the 5th of January.

Art. 17, 19, 20. Constitutional Law 4/1981, of the 1st of June, on States of Alert, Emergency or Siege.

Art. 30 and 62. Constitutional Law 6/1980, of the 1st of July, on Basic Criteria on National Defence and Military Organisation.

Art. 104. Constitutional Law 2/1986, of the 13th of March, on Security Forces and Corps.

Art. 116. Constitutional Law 4/1981, of the 1st of June, on States of Alert, Emergency or Siege.

Constitutional Law 6/1980, of the 1st of July, on Basic Criteria for National Defence and Military Organisation.

Art. 117. Constitutional Law 6/1980, of the 1st of July, on basic Criteria for National Defence and Mlitary Organisation.

Constitutional Law 4/1987, of the 15th of July, on the Powers and Organisation of Military Jurisdiction.

Art. 126 and 149. Constitutional Law 2/1986, of the 13th of March, on Security Forces and Corps.