Felipe VI, 46, has been proclaimed the new king of Spain, following the resignation of his father Juan Carlos, 76. As king, Felipe VI will be Spain’s head of state as well as commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces. The official ceremony took place before Spain’s parliament with the king dressed in formal military attire and swearing an oath of loyalty to Spain’s constitution.
The new king will have a role in helping calm tensions in the Catalonia region, where demands for separation have been growing. “There is room for all of us in this united and diverse Spain,” Felipe VI said during his 26-minuite speech, before ending with thanks in Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Spanish, the country’s four official languages. Among the 17 leaders of Spain’s regional governments, Catalonia’s did not applaud along with the rest for the new king.
Juan Carlos’ reign had lasted 39 years, being named as the next head of state by dictator Francisco Franco in 1969 and assuming the throne two days after Franco’s death in 1975. Juan Carlos had been a popular monarch throughout his years, although an expensive elephant hunting trip in 2012 during Spain’s economic crisis has tainted his image. Both Juan Carlos and his daughter Cristina, who is also plagued by allegations of wrong-doing, were not in attendance during the ceremony.
Recently in Spain, an anti-monarchist movement has been gaining momentum, with demands for a republic system to replace the monarchy fueled by stories of royal family scandal and corruption. After being denied the right to hold a rally demanding the end to the monarchy, dozens of protesters gathered near Puerta del Sol in Madrid, resulting in three arrests. A poll conducted in June by a politically neutral polling firm shows the 62% of Spaniards want a referendum on the monarchy’s future “at some point.”
Authorities deployed 7,000 police officers and several helicopters to secure the new king’s motorcade route.
Source: Spain’s Crown Prince Becomes King Felipe VI — Wall Street Journal