The new king of Spain King Felipe VI was officially sworn on the 19th of June. His father Juan Carlos, who was instrumental in the end of Franco’s dictatorship less than 50 years ago, handed Filipe VI the royal sash in a low-key ceremony on Thursday. In a speech after the ceremony, Filipe VI swore to uphold the constitution of Spain and respond to the needs of his Citizens.
The Legacy of a father
Juan Carlos, the former king, abdicated from the throne on 2nd June 2014, citing health reasons. Having reigned from 1975 to 2014, Juan Carlos was a key player in the end of Francoist dictatorship. After having been named Franco’s successor moved the country towards a democracy with a constitutional monarchy after Franco’s death. This restored Juan Carlos’ family line to the monarchy but also paved the way for Spain’s first post Franco parliamentary elections. In 1981 a coup led by monarchists, who claimed to be acting for the King, attempted the overthrow of the democratic system. Once again the King supported the parliamentary system with a televised speech to the nation. More recently the former King had taken on a mainly ceremonial role despite the extensive powers due to a head of state, mainly relying on government advice for his duties.
Juan Carlos has three legitimate children; Princess Elena, Princess Christina and Prince Filipe. After abdicating he named his son, the youngest, as his successor to the throne.
King Filipe, born in Madrid on the 30th January 1968, the youngest child of Juan Carlos attended high school in Canada and studied Law at AUM in Madrid followed by a Masters at Georgetown University. He is married to Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, a former journalist and has had two children with her. As a crown prince he was recognized as being attentive and dutiful in his position. Taking on a role well and attending many public and private audiences and maximize his interaction with the Spanish people. Having been groomed for succession for many years he as taken on his new role as the King of Spain with confidence. Taking moves to be a unifying figure head for Spain, he has proved himself as a skilled diplomat in a recent visit to Catalonia, speaking the language and promising to mediate between their government and Madrid. Still, the country at large is apprehensive over the future of Spain and skeptical that the new King could provide a solution.
Despite the anointment ceremony’s success, the New Kings public appearances and the endorsement of the new king by both of the main Spanish political parties, pressure remains on the monarchy over recent scandals. Princess Cristina, King Felipe’s elder sister, is under scrutiny over alleged tax fraud. She is to be charged and tried for corruption offences as complicit in her estranged husbands dodgy-dealings. To make matters worse, Juan Carlos’ perceived profligacy in an era of austerity, especially the notorious elephant-hunting episode, has prompted calls for a referendum on the future of the royal dynasty. King Felipe also faces challenges keeping Spain together. There are strong independence movements in both the Basque Country and Catalonia. This has been recently made worse by fears in the autonomous regions that Madrid is seeking to curtail the teaching of regional languages in schools, new laws against abortion and extended austerity.