• Spain's news in English
 
Spaniards must unite: Spain's future king
Photo: AFP

Spaniards must unite: Spain's future king

Published: 04 Jun 2014 15:24 GMT+02:00

The tall, 46-year-old former Olympic yachtsman ascends to the throne as his nation struggles with a towering 26-percent jobless rate, smouldering republican sentiment and a growing independence movement in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

"In difficult periods such as these we are going through, past experience in history shows us that only by uniting our desires, putting the common good ahead of individual interests and promoting the initiative, curiosity and creativity of each person, can we manage to advance to better scenarios," Felipe said.

"This is the spirit that everyone -- institutional heads, social and economic agents, organisations and citizens -- should have so as to decisively confront the future and broaden the field of hope that opens up before us."

SEE ALSO: Finally: someone resigns in crisis-hit Spain

The future King Felipe VI, wearing a navy-blue suit, stressed his country's 1,000-year history of unity and diversity as he appeared with his elegant 41-year-old wife Letizia, dressed in a pink jacket, at a cultural award-giving ceremony in northern Spain's Monastery of Leyre.

'Our dear Spain'

It was the royal couple's first joint appearance in public since the 76-year-old Juan Carlos announced on Monday he would abdicate to pass the crown to "a younger generation".

Felipe said he would limit his remarks out of respect for parliament, which has the duty of proclaiming the new monarch in line with the Spanish constitution of 1978.

Yet he promised to devote all his strength to serving the Spanish people and "our dear Spain -- a nation, a united and diverse social and political community that has its roots in a millennium-long history".

His comments held special significance at a time when Catalonia's political chief Artur Mas is pushing ahead with plans to hold a vote on independence from Spain on November 9, flying in the face of fierce opposition from Madrid.

A growing number of Catalonia's 7.5 million citizens resent the redistribution of their taxes to other parts of Spain and believe the region would be better off on its own.

At the same time, many Spaniards, especially the young, would prefer to abolish the monarchy.

Thousands of anti-royalist protesters massed in the streets after Juan Carlos' abdication announcement. A group of small leftist parties, too, backed a referendum on the future on the monarchy.

SEE ALSO: IN PICTURES: The reign of Spain's King Juan Carlos

Spain's ruling Popular Party and the main opposition Socialist Party both support the monarchy, however, ensuring Felipe's succession will be approved by parliament, possibly as soon as June 18.

Juan Carlos was widely respected for smoothing Spain's transition to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, in particular for appearing on national television to thwart an attempted military coup in February 1981.

But in a study by pollster Sigma Dos published in January, support for the king, who has been troubled by ill health, gaffes and family scandals, fell to 41 percent.

Those wanting him to abdicate in favour of Felipe surged to 62 percent.

Only 49 percent approved of the monarchy itself.

'No problem with change'

Many Spaniards were outraged to hear the king took a luxury elephant-hunting trip to Botswana in 2012 as they struggled to find jobs in a recession.

This year his youngest daughter Cristina was named as a suspect in connection with her husband Inaki Urdangarin's allegedly corrupt business dealings.

Felipe and Letizia have largely avoided being tainted by the scandals dogging other members of their family, however.

Speaking to reporters during a United Nation event in New York, Spain's Queen Sofia said the changeover to Felipe's reign would be smooth.

"My son represents continuity. There will be no problem with the change," she said.

Asked what advice she could give Letizia, the queen replied: "That she be herself. She is very competent, charming and I love her very much."

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Homeless guides reveal 'hidden' Barcelona
Photo: Quique Garcia/AFP

Homeless guides reveal 'hidden' Barcelona

Ramon Holgado used to sleep outside in a cardboard box, but he is back on his feet this Christmas -- guiding homeless-themed tours of the Barcelona streets he lived rough in. READ  

Europe's brutal African borders 'a tragedy'
The border fence at Melilla. Photo: Jose Colon/AFP

Europe's brutal African borders 'a tragedy'

Just across the sea from the sunny tourist beaches of southern Spain where many Europeans spend their Christmas holidays, a violent crisis is intensifying on Europe's borders with Africa. READ  

Fourth man remanded over Spain football riot
The supporters of Deportivo La Coruna in this picture have no connection to the story. File photo: AFP

Fourth man remanded over Spain football riot

A fourth man has been remanded in custody suspected of taking part in the killing of a rival fan in a football riot in Madrid last month, officials said. READ  

Serbian gangsters jailed for Spain slaying
File photo: Dani Pozo

Serbian gangsters jailed for Spain slaying

Four Serb ex-paramilitaries were jailed for between five and 21 years on Tuesday over the killing and dismemberment of a fellow gangster in Spain. READ  

Spanish soprano avoids jail for tax fraud
The singer did not declare her earnings in 2010, listing her official residence as being in the tiny country of Andorra. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

Spanish soprano avoids jail for tax fraud

Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé, famous for her 'Barcelona' duet with Freddy Mercury, later used as the official anthem of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, will escape prison after coming to an agreement with Spain’s public prosecutor over tax fraud charges. READ  

8 weird ways parliament spends your money
Did you need the Spanish parliament has a €3,000 budget for telegrams in 2015? Photo: AFP

8 weird ways parliament spends your money

From telegram bills to tapestry touch-ups, the budget for the Spanish parliament is full of surprises once you scratch below the surface. READ  

Judges slam Spain's crumbling courts
A bathroom doubling up as a storage cupboard in a court in Torrejón de Ardoz, near Madrid. Photo: Foro Judicial Independiente

Judges slam Spain's crumbling courts

Judges and civil servants across the country have criticized the appalling conditions at many Spanish courts, warning that staff are being put at serious risk. READ  

Royal corruption
King's Xmas speech hit by royal fraud case
King Felipe pictured in the Zarzuela Palace in early December. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

King's Xmas speech hit by royal fraud case

Spain's new King Felipe is to give his first annual Christmas speech on Wednesday but many Spaniards will only be tuning in to find out if says anything about his sister Cristina's upcoming appearance in court in a fraud trial. READ  

Spain enjoys record tourism year in 2014

Spain enjoys record tourism year in 2014

Spain welcomed a staggering 61.7 million visitors in the first 11 months of 2014, more than all of 2013 combined and already a new annual record for the country. READ  

Christmas 2014
'Three Wise Men' fined for not wearing helmets

'Three Wise Men' fined for not wearing helmets

Police in Zaragoza have fined the three kings who rode their motorbikes without wearing helmets while en route to an appearance at a local school. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Confirmed: Spain's Princess Cristina to be tried for fraud
National
Did Vikings settle as far south as Spain?
National
Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan
Society
Lifting the lid on Spain's mysterious Christmas lottery
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
What's On
Top 12 things to do in Spain over Christmas
Politics
Spain passes tough new 'anti-protest' law
Business & Money
Google News quits Spain in paid content row
What's On
How to party like a Spaniard: the ultimate guide
Society
Madrid's shocking slum shames Spanish capital
National
Policeman mauled by lions at Barcelona zoo
Business & Money
Uber eyes appeal against Spain ban
Travel
Google offers virtual views of Spain's wonders
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Education
Three Spanish business schools makes Europe's top 10
Health
Spain officially free of Ebola: World Health Organization
Travel
Ten Spanish museums you need to know about
National
Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
Malaga: mini-tornado causes damage on coast
National
Google Maps 'undeletes' famous Cordoba mosque
National
Riot cops star in Down Syndrome calendar
What's On
What's on in Spain: December 2014
Sponsored Article
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange
National
'Plane laser' finds Roman gold mines in Spain
National
From the Armada to Orwell: ten great quotes about Spain
National
34 percent of Spain's workers on €645 minimum wage
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Society
The Duchess of Alba: eight amazing facts
International
'World's longest railway' links Madrid and China
What's On
What's on in Spain: November 2014
International
MPs call on Spain to recognize Palestine
International
VIDEO: Greenpeace activist injured in Canary Islands oil clash
Education
Spaniards are speaking better English than ever: study
Politics
The Dummies' Guide to Spain's new Podemos Party
National
Ten Spanish dishes to try before you die
Property
Spain's golden visa scheme struggles to take off
National
80 percent of voters say 'yes' to independent Catalonia
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Spaniard
National
Boardgame cashes in on Spain's corruption crisis
Society
Real's Ronaldo world's second richest athlete
National
Priests slam Spain's jacuzzi-loving 'archbishop of bling'
National
Ten shocking corruption cases hurting Spain
National
Seville: Erasmus student dies in selfie fall
Travel
Top ten: brilliant Barcelona restaurants
Society
Dad told to pay child support to 29-year-old daughter
Politics
'We're sorry': Spanish PM apologizes over corruption scandals
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

609
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply