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Minted! King Felipe is on the money

Fiona Govan · 6 Feb 2015, 17:47

Published: 06 Feb 2015 17:47 GMT+01:00

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The one-euro and two-euro pieces made their debut this week, nearly eight months after the new monarch was crowned, on the abdication of his father King Juan Carlos.

King Felipe inherited a throne tarnished by a series of scandals that saw the once popular Juan Carlos plummet in the ratings so that even the most steadfast of royalists began to consider the benefits of a Republic.

In his inauguration speech, the new head of state pledged a "new era" for the monarchy, one of transparency and austerity.

And he has worked hard to keep his word, already introducing sweeping new measures within his own household, including the imposing of a ban on royals accepting freebies of any sort, a rule that was extended to his wife and two daughters and even the freebie loving old King, Juan Carlos.

The pledge of transparency was upheld with the drawing up of regulations that will see palace accounts fully opened to external scrutiny in the shape of a government led audit.

In their campaign to win back the hearts of the Spanish people, King Felipe and his wife, Queen Letizia, a former news anchor, have been diligent in their public roles, appearing regularly at official openings and ceremonies.

Where once her presence at Felipe´s side raised eyebrows, Letizia, 42, who as a divorced commoner was far from approved by the establishment, is now universally celebrated as a style icon.

They couple have also wooed the public with their modest private activities, dining together at a humble tapas restaurant in the fashionable Matadero complex on Madrid´s Rio last May to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.

They have been snapped by fellow filmgoers and appeared in "selfies" while standing in the queue at their local cinemas, giving the impression that they really are just like ordinary Spaniards.

But however hard King Felipe, who turned 47 last week, attempts to convince Spaniards that he represents a new generation of royal, one that does not take privilege and riches for granted, he is haunted by the scandals of his father´s reign.

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Later this year, the King´s sister Cristina will become the first Bourbon to stand trial when she will appear in the dock accused of tax evasion as part of a major corruption scandal centering on her husand, Iñaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma.

King Felipe may too have to deal with the consequences of the growing popularity of the upstart left wing party Podemos that is sending shockwaves through the political establishment.

Although the party, which has currently overtaken the opposition PSOE in the polls and is snapping at the heels of the PP, has not yet gone so far as to firmly nail its colours to the mast of republicanism, many of its supporters expect it to.

So perhaps the four million new coins minted in January will ensure that for the time being King Felipe has a place reserved in every Spaniards heart – or at the very least, his pocket.

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Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

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