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Sunday 31 August 2014

A king for all Spaniards promises 'renewed monarchy for new times'

Fiona Govan

Published 20/06/2014 | 02:30

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Spain’s new King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia on the Royal Palace balcony in Madrid.

FELIPE VI was proclaimed the King of Spain before adoring crowds yesterday as he promised a "renewed monarchy for new times".

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The 46-year-old monarch delivered his first speech to parliament in which he vowed to "listen and advise".

He said he would uphold the unity of his nation through difficult times.

Accompanied by Queen Letizia and their two daughters, the new king sent a message of hope to his people, offering words of solidarity to "those who have suffered the blows of the economic crisis".

"We need to win the battle to create employment, which is a priority for the good of society and the state," he said.

His words will resonate in a country suffering 26pc unemployment. It was a simple swearing-in ceremony that showed little of the pomp afforded to other coronations. The Spanish Crown was left on a chair beside the king as he addressed the Cortes.

There was no state banquet, no religious mass and no foreign heads of state invited, a deliberate decision to keep the costs down "in keeping with the criteria of austerity", the royal house said.

Cavalcade

The new king won a standing ovation from those in parliament, but it was in the streets that the hope of a nation was expressed.

Thousands lined the procession route as the king, with his commoner wife, went from the parliament to the Royal Palace. Amid a sea of waving Spanish flags, the crowds shouted "Viva El Rey! Viva Espana!" as the cavalcade swept by.

"It's a boost after the disaster of Spain's football team in the World Cup last night," said Fernando Lopez, his four-year-old son on his shoulders.

"Today I feel proud to be Spanish. Felipe represents a new generation and is more down to earth than his father. He will be good for Spain."

The biggest crowd gathered in front of the Royal Palace to see the king and queen greet them from the balcony. King Felipe, Queen Letizia and their daughters waved to rapturous well-wishers before being joined by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

Felipe VI's elder daughter Leonor (8) assumed the title of the Princess of Asturias.

During the swearing in, King Felipe's strongest message addressed one of his first challenges – the growing separatist clamour especially from Catalonia, the north-eastern region fighting to hold a Scottish-style referendum later this year.

"In a unified and diverse Spain, based on the equality of and solidarity between its people, there is room for all of us," the new monarch said.

Thanking his father for an "exceptional reign" lasting nearly four decades, King Felipe also sought to mark a new chapter, leaving behind the scandals that tarnished the reign of King Juan Carlos.

"The crown must constantly earn citizens' appreciation, respect and trust," he said. "Today. . . citizens are rightly demanding that public officials lead by example."

King Juan Carlos chose not to attend the ceremony so as "not to overshadow the new king", palace insiders said. Also missing from the festivities was the Infanta Cristina, King Felipe's sister.

She has been implicated in money-laundering and tax evasion related to the financial dealings of her husband, the Duke of Palma.

The king ended his speech by saying thank you in four languages: Castilian Spanish, Basque, Catalan and Galician. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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