Spain Hopes New King Will Mend Royal Family's Tarnished Reputation

June 19, 2014: New monarchical era begins in Spain.

Spanish King Juan Carlos' 39-year reign ended on midnight Wednesday as he abdicated and made way for his son Felipe VI, who has now become the new monarch of the Kingdom of Spain.

The swearing-in ceremony of the new head of state took place at the Royal Palace, after which the new king addressed the Spanish people and waved from the balcony to the crowd gathered outside.

During his coronation speech, he emphasized the need for Spain to stay united and asked the people to respect each other and the region's cultural diversity.

He began by saying: "This is the start of a renewed monarchy for a new time," before promising that he will stay receptive during his reign.

"We have a great country, we are a great nation -- let us trust in it," he told the packed parliamentary chamber and the millions watching nationwide. "There is room for all of us in a united and diverse Spain."

He stressed respect for the diverse cultures and languages within Spain, a clear message to people in Catalonia and Basque Country who want to break away from Spain.

At the end of his speech, he said "thank you" in four languages: Castilian Spanish, Basque, Catalan and Galician.

The multilingual gesture got a cool response from the regional leaders of Catalonia and Basque Country, who were sitting in the Parliament listening to the speech and were notably restrained in their applause.

After the ceremony the king rode in an open Rolls Royce through central Madrid with his wife, Queen Letizia. Thousands of well-wishers, including tourists, lined the route, waving flags and shouting "long live the king."

His father, Juan Carlos, relinquished his position amid public pressure after a series of corruption scandals led many Spanish masses -- especially younger generations -- to question the role of the monarchy itself.

While the scandal has tarnished the reputation of both the royal family as a whole as well as some of its prominent members, Felipe VI has remained untouched. It is why the experts feel that he can do a lot to regain the lost confidence of Spanish people in monarchy.


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