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The Royal 2010s: looking back at the accession of King Felipe VI of Spain


By Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation), CC BY 2.5 ar, Wiki Commons

The past decade has been filled with some major royal moments including the ending of one era in Spain and the start of another. The decision by King Juan Carlos I to stand aside in favour of his son surprised many but the reign of King Felipe VI, which began on June 19th 2014, has been seen as a boost to the country’s royal family which has faced a difficult decade. As the 2010s come to an end, Royal Central looks back at one of its biggest milestones, the accession of Felipe VI, King of Spain.

End of an era

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King Juan Carlos I’s intention to abdicate was announced by his then Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, on June 2nd 2019. The king later spoke to his people on television, saying his decision to step aside had been taken as it was the best thing for Spain.

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It would bring to an end a reign that had started in November 1975 on the death of the dictator, Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos had been praised for his efforts to establish democracy in Spain almost as soon as his rule began and his courage in facing down opposition to the move. But the troubles which had beset the country’s royals in recent times had led to a dramatic fall in their popularity. In the aftermath of the news, protesters demanding an end to the monarchy gathered in some of Spain’s biggest cities.

Preparations for a new king

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Within days, it was confirmed that the passage of power to Juan Carlos’ only son, Felipe, would take place on June 19th 2014. Spanish politicians passed the necessary laws to allow the abdication to take place while discussion continued about how the monarchy would change with the departure of a monarch who had helped shape modern Spain.

Signing away a throne

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On June 18th 2014, as the afternoon sun began to dip a little over Madrid, King Juan Carlos arrived at the Royal Palace to sign away his throne. In a short ceremony, he put his name to a document that would end his reign as midnight struck that night.

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As he returned to his seat having assented to his abdication, he movingly hugged his son and successor, Felipe, before insisting that he now take the chair reserved for the monarch. He received a long, standing ovation.

Spain’s New King

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The Spanish Royal Family was next seen on the morning of June 19th 2014 when King Felipe VI’s reign was already several hours old. A short ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace saw Juan Carlos symbolically hand over the sash of the Captain General of the Spanish Army, signifying that his son was now completely in charge.

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King Felipe VI accompanied by the new queen consort, Letizia, and their two daughters, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia, then travelled to the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes, where the new monarch was sworn in.

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He then delivered a speech in which he promised to be a ”loyal head of state who is ready to listen and understan, warn and advise” and he called for unity in his country.

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King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia were then driven through the crowds in central Madrid as celebrations continued for the start of a new reign.

A new face for Spain’s monarchy

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Back at the Royal Palace, King Felipe led his family on to the balcony where thousands had gathered to see them. A new era for Spain’s ruling dynasty had begun.



About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.