Spain was thrown out of the World Cup soccer tournament early, but made up for it by swearing in the new King Felipe VI. The 46 year old prince officially took over the thrown with no formal announcement and during a regularly scheduled joint session of parliament.
The proclamation came after Felipe’s father, Juan Carlos, abdicated his title to his eldest son. The former king has reigned over the European country since 1975, and is credited with being instrumental in returning Spain to a democracy following the dictatorial leadership imposed by Francisco Franco. Franco died in 1975, restoring the role of king to Carlos.
Prince Felipe and his wife former journalist Letizia, were crowned King and Queen while their two daughters, Leonor and Sofia watched. Los Angeles Times reporter, Lauren Frayer explained that the new king spoke for roughly 25 minutes, reiterating his respect and admiration for his father. While Juan Carlos was not present for the no-frills ceremony, his mother, former Queen Sofia watched as her son took the thrown.
“His voice broke during an address as he paid tribute to his parents, the former King and Queen,” said Frayer. .
As he took the thrown, the new King promised to convert the monarchy from the old times to new times. He made this announcement in a very modest setting with little fanfare, said Frayer.
As the new King of Spain, Felipe VI will serve as president of the Ibero-Americas States Organization, a governing body that represents 24 nations, 700 million people in Spain, Portugal, and the majority of Central and South American countries. On another note, the King of Spain is immune from any prosecution that relates to his official duties. In addition the Spanish Penal Code protects both the King and Queen from insult. On June 2, he announced his abdication in favor of his son, the crown prince. However, almost immediately after Spain swears in a new king, King Felipe VI will face some significant challenges that eluded his father.
According to Wall Street Journal reporter, David Roman, Spain“s overall economy is sluggish and unemployment still hovers in the 20 percent range. Even more daunting, explained Roman, is the threat of deflation.
“A significant slowdown in Spain‘s export sector and a heavily indebted construction spells slow economic growth for the future,” said Roman.
On top of these economic challenges, King Felipe VI also faces extreme pressure to keep Catalonia part of Spain. Catalonia, which borders France, also includes the Provence of Barcelona. Catalonia had its own legal, political and social framework long before Spain concurred the New World, and feels it deserves to be independent. Looming on the near horizon is a special election that will ask the people of Catalonia if they want to be an independent nation or remain part of Spain. The independence referendum will be held in early November, 2014. Finally, King Felipe VI will face the a rising ire toward the monarchy he rules. According to Fayer, the former King of Spain had an approval rating of below 40 percent, and while King Felipe VI has a better approval rating, it is only marginally better. It is estimated that roughly 50 percent of the population opposes the Spanish monarchy.
“The simple truth is there’s no point for kings to hang on to power when the people are tired of them,” said Bloomberg reporter, Leonid Bershidsky.
While the future is not as bright as his crown, new King of Spain is a popular figure in the European Country. As Spain swore in the new king, spectators were heard “Vive el Rey” or“Long Live the King.”
By Vincent Aviani