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IN IMAGES: King Felipe VI marks 10 tough years on Spain's throne

AFP
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IN IMAGES: King Felipe VI marks 10 tough years on Spain's throne
Spanish Crown Princess of Asturias Leonor, Spanish Princess Sofia, Queen Letizia and King Felipe VI attend the commemorations marking the 10th anniversary of the proclamation of Spain's King Felipe VI at the Palacio de Oriente or Royal Palace in Madrid on June 19, 2024. (Photo by Juan Medina / POOL / AFP)

King Felipe VI on Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of his accession to the Spanish throne, putting the spotlight on a decade of efforts to restore the image of the monarchy following scandals that led his father Juan Carlos to abdicate.

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"During these years of service, commitment and duty have been the pillars of my action as king," he said during a ceremony at Madrid's Royal Palace.

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Felipe, then 46, was sworn in at Spain's lower house of parliament on June 19th, 2014, just 17 days after his father announced he would step down following scandals regarding his finances and love life that led many Spaniards to question the role of the monarchy.

The aerobatic team "Patrulla Aguila" (Eagle Patrol) of the Spanish Air and Space Force flies above the Royal Palace. (Photo by Juan Medina / POOL / AFP)

"The king our era needed," El Mundo newspaper headlined on its front page on Wednesday, adding that the first ten years of his reign had "restored prestige to the Crown".

READ ALSO: Could Spain ever dethrone King Felipe and become a republic?

In his first speech after becoming king, Felipe promised "a renewed monarchy for a new era". He promptly ordered an audit of the royal household accounts and issued a "code of conduct" for its members.

King Felipe, Queen Letizia and their daughters on the balcony of the Palacio de Oriente or Royal Palace. (Photo by Juan Medina / POOL / AFP)

The following year he stripped his elder sister, Princess Cristina, of her title as Duchess of Palma de Mallorca after she was indicted as part of a probe money laundering and fraud probe into her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín.

In 2016, she became the first member of the Spanish royal family to stand trial since the monarch was restored in 1975.

The princess was ordered to pay a fine and Urdangarín was convicted and served a jail term of five years and ten months. The couple have since separated.

Spain's royal family and several politicians pose for photographs with 17 people decorated for civil merit during the commemorations. (Photo by Juan Medina / POOL / AFP)

The best system?

In 2020, Felipe renounced any future personal inheritance he might receive from his father and stripped him of his annual allowance after fresh details of his allegedly shady dealings emerged.

Even though investigations of Juan Carlos's finances in Spain and Switzerland have since been dropped, Felipe has continued to keep his distance from his father, who left Spain for Abu Dhabi in 2020.

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Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of long-time dictator Francisco Franco. He earned respect for his role in guiding Spain's transition to democracy.

The wife of Spain's Prime Minister, Begoña Gómez, attended the commemorations despite the corruption scandals she is currently embroiled in. (Photo by Juan Medina / POOL / AFP)

But the money and sex scandals eroded his standing. Spaniards appear divided over Felipe's efforts to restore the image of the monarchy.

While 47.4 percent of Spaniards feel he has kept his promise of creating a monarchy "renovated for a new era", 45.1 percent disagreed, according to a poll published Sunday in El Mundo.

Some 49.6 percent believe a constitutional monarchy is "the best system" for Spain, while 40.4 percent disagreed, according to the poll.

Spanish King Felipe VI talks with Spanish Crown Princess of Asturias Leonor. (Photo by Juan Medina / POOL / AFP)

'Serving everyone'

Since Felipe's eldest daughter Leonor turned 18 on October 31st last year, the heir to the Spanish throne has had an increasingly public role.

She swore loyalty to the Spanish constitution that day in a ceremony in parliament, a necessary step for her to be able to succeed to the crown.

READ MORE: Leonor turns 18 - What you need to know about Spain's crown princess

Felipe, wearing a navy suit and patterned tie, appeared on the balcony of the Royal Palace on Wednesday with his wife Letizia, a former TV journalist, and their daughters, Leonor and Sofia, as part of a ceremony marking his accession to the throne. The royal family waved to crowds gathered below.

During a gala lunch at the palace, Princess Leonor and her sister led guests in a toast to their parents.

"Because since we were born, we have been taught the value of this institution, of the Crown, its usefulness to our society and its purpose of serving everyone," Leonor said

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