• Spain's news in English

Spaniards must unite: Spain's future king

AFP · 4 Jun 2014, 15:24

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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'

Story continues below…

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."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain’s Socialists lift veto on conservatives
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available