The King of Spain has celebrated the seventh anniversary of his reign by overseeing a special ceremony in the Royal Palace in Madrid, the place where the transfer of power from his father began.
Felipe VI presented the Order of Civil Merit to the Palace to 24 Spanish citizens on June 18th 2021, exactly seven years after he had entered the same room as Prince of Asturias to watch King Juan Carlos sign the Instrument of Abdication which initiated a new phase for Spain’s monarchy.
King Felipe was accompanied by his wife, Queen Letizia, and their two daughters, Leonor and Sofia, just as he had been on the day that the abdication was signed. The ceremony took place in the Hall of Columns where his father finalised the historic act which made Felipe monarch.
Spain’s Royal Family welcomed the latest recipients of the Order which recognises outstanding service to Spain across society. This year, they have been recognised for their contributions during the coronavirus pandemic.
King Felipe gave a speech at the ceremony in which he praised the efforts of those he had just presented with the Order, saying it was a day for ”recognition and gratitude to people who have given exemplary service to the society of which they are part”. And he added ”your example unites us, makes us emotional, and makes us proud. You are the mirror at which in which we must all look: including the king.”
He also reflected on his own role, renewing his promise to serve Spain with ” the same sense of duty and vocation….which has inspired my whole life.”
Felipe VI became King of Spain at the stroke of midnight on June 19th 2014, just hours after his father had signed the Instrument of Abdication. King Juan Carlos had announced he was stepping aside less than three weeks earlier, on June 2nd. The reasons for his abdication have never been made public. In the years since, his reputation has deteriorated following ongoing accusations of financial impropriety. In August 2020, Juan Carlos left Spain for self imposed exile, only revealing he had quit the country he ruled for 38 years once he was overseas. He said he had gone, in part, as he was concerned controversy around him was reflecting on his son.
However, King Felipe’s reign remains plagued by controversy while Spain’s royals struggle to regain the huge popularity they enjoyed in the 1980s and 1990s. In recent weeks, the monarch has found himself engulfed in yet another political row as conservative politicians complained that his constitutional role meant he would have to sign pardons for Catalan separatists leaders who were jailed for sedition following the failed independence referendum of 2017. Their release has been proposed by the current socialist government. That row comes just months after riots took place in several cities in Spain over the case of a rapper who was jailed for protests that included criticism of the Spanish monarchy.