THE NEW KING AND A NEW ERA

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He is the new generation, able to make a difference.

 

By Anisah Hilali
Photos: A. Hilali

The 19th of June made for a historic day in Spain with the formal proclamation of the new King Felipe VI, after his father Juan Carlos abdicated the throne in his favour. The day, beginning with a low key ceremony –  specifically in the face of Spain’s economic woes –  was followed by a motorcade down to Palacio del Oriente whereupon the new Spanish Monarch and his family – now Queen Consort Letizia and their daughters, Princess of Asturias Leonor and Infanta Sofia – appeared on the balcony of the palace, saluting his subjects – those from many parts of Spain who came to see and those watching on television.

Flag-waving people celebrate the proclamation of Felipe VI as the new King of Spain

Flag-waving people celebrate the proclamation of Felipe VI as the new King of Spain

The proclamation of Felipe VI marked a peaceful transition for the Monarchy and was the first of its kind since democracy was restored in Spain in the late 1970’s. His ascension marks an end to the somewhat tainted reign of King Juan Carlos who is credited with Spain’s shift toward democracy but found himself out of favour in the public eye after his expensive elephant hunting safari in Botswana at the height of Spain’s economic crisis – amongst other  controversies. The Royal Family, as a result, needed a breath of fresh air, in the person of King Felipe who remained untouched by scandal despite his family’s troubles.

Mayor Ana Botella of Madrid had invited the residents of the capital city to be joyous on this occasion, urging the people to show their affection and full support of the new Monarch and display their confidence in the future. The Madrileños were quick to oblige; many residents of the beautiful city adorned their homes and the streets with the national colours, flags glittering in the sunlight of a bright new future. Not to be outdone, the seat of the government of the region (as differentiated from the city) of Madrid, the Real Casa de Correos, boasted a gigantic poster of the King and Queen Consort on Puerta del Sol which was  strewn with Spanish flags.

Buildings on Puerta del Sol, as in many places of Madrid, proudly wore the national colours

Buildings on Puerta del Sol, as in many places of Madrid, proudly wore the national colours

Jubilant shouts of Viva España and Viva el Rey filled the air of Madrid, with many citizens wearing and carrying Spanish flags of all sizes in support of the new King. Despite some subtle cries for a Republic and calls for a referendum on retaining a constitutional monarchy, it is clear that today was very much a day where simple patriotism prevailed (republican rallies had been banned for the day). Many raced for a place along the route of the motorcade while the King’s speech with its encouraging message, and screened in nearby Callao, served as a welcome distraction from Spain’s disastrous performance at the World Cup.

Huge screen on Plaza Callao shows the King delivering his proclamation speech

Huge screen on Plaza Callao shows the King delivering his proclamation speech

Now officially sworn in, great things are expected of King Felipe VI who has come to symbolize hope and stability for the country. King Felipe VI has expressed his desires for a “renewed monarchy for new times,” even ending his speech with the Castilian, Catalan, Basque and Galician for “Thank you,” thereby acknowledging national diversity but knitting together unity where increasing separatist movements are brewing.

With promises of a new unity, “a new Spain that we will build together,” the future certainly looks bright for King Felipe VI. Moreover, he has sworn to make ethical and moral values the hallmarks of his reign. This is a formula that will surely restore the reputation of the Monarchy and pave the way toward a renewed Spain. He is the new generation, able to make a difference.