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MADRID, June 19 /ITAR-TASS/. Crown Prince Felipe of Spain took the throne at midnight (2 am, Moscow time), becoming King Felipe VI and facing the challenge to save the image of Spain’s royals and settle problems facing the nation.
The ceremony of enthronement begins at 10:30 on Thursday (12:30 Moscow time) at a joint session of the lower and upper houses of parliament.
The new king, who enjoys support of most Spaniards, will take the oath and will make a speech to outline the main directions of his activity as the new head of state.
The 46-year-old Felipe is seen as a worthy successor to his father, Juan Carlos I. The prince received good education in Spain, Canada and the United States, went through military training in all branches of troops. For many years he was making official foreign trips, providing an opportunity for him to personally get acquainted with many foreign leaders and members of royal families. He has also visited all autonomous regions of Spain and is well aware of their problems. He is notable for modesty, balanced judgments, self-control and good breeding. He has never been marred in scandals, and his family life is an example of love and deep mutual respect.
However, he takes the throne at a time rather difficult for the country and for the royal family. Citizen’s trust in state institutions and politicians has declined as a result of a deep economic crisis and not always efficient policy of two major political organizations - the Socialist Workers’ Party and the People’s Party - succeeding each other as party in power. This could not but have affected the attitude towards monarchy, which for some Spaniards is relic of the past, an anti-democratic institution that must be abolished.
Besides, national problems have worsened in Spain in the past decade, triggering a growth in separatist moods in Catalonia and the Basque Country.
A scandal around the youngest daughter of Juan Carlos I, Infanta Cristina and her husband Inaki Urdangarin, who are suspected of fraud, had dealt a major blow to royal family’s prestige. All this makes a new king especially responsible to his subjects, who expect from him irreproachable conduct and more active role in the settlement of problems facing the country.
Opinion polls show that the new monarch enjoys support of the majority of the population and major political parties. Time will show now whether he will manage to live up to the expectations of rank-and-file Spaniards and political elite.