The ten years of reign of Felipe VI

The ten years of reign of Felipe VI

The king celebrates a decade on the throne trying to recover the reputation of the royal house.

Ten years are a long time and the first decade of Felipe VI's reign was not going to be any less. This Wednesday, the monarch celebrates two decades at the head of the Spanish royal house marked by the scandals of King Juan Carlos, political instability and the drive of Queen Letizia, who has managed to have her own role within the institution as a consort.

While Zarzuela has prepared a display to commemorate the anniversary, which will spread throughout Spain in the coming months, Felipe VI celebrates ten years as king without the Spanish having been able to assess his role. The CIS last asked about trust in the institution (suspended) in April 2015, when the current king had not been on the throne for even a year.

In these first ten years, Felipe VI has had to manage intense political activity as a result of the fragmentation of Parliament while trying to recover the prestige of the crown, completely eroded by the corruption scandals of King Juan Carlos and the Nóos case, which led to Urdangarin to prison and Infanta Cristina to testify on the stand.

We recover ten key moments from his first ten years as king:

The proclamation

On June 19, 2014, Felipe VI swore the Constitution in the Congress of Deputies together with Queen Letizia and her two daughters, the now Princess of Asturias, Leonor, and Infanta Sofía. Queen Sofía and Infanta Elena watched excitedly from the balcony, but not King Juan Carlos, who after placing his son in the Captain General's band decided not to attend Congress.

“I want to pay a tribute of gratitude and respect to my father, King Juan Carlos I. An exceptional reign today becomes part of our history with an extraordinary political legacy,” declared the new monarch from the rostrum.

The emeritus was on the balcony of the Royal Palace with the kings, their daughters and Queen Sofia to greet the crowd that had come to the Plaza de Oriente. On the balcony there were some uncomfortable moments between Juan Carlos I and his wife, to which Felipe VI remained oblivious while he continued greeting.

In his speech in Congress, in which the new king had to make his intentions clear, Felipe VI expressed his desire to embody, together with Letizia and her daughters, “a renewed monarchy for a new time.” This renovation included a smaller royal family without the participation of the Infantas Elena and Cristina, in addition to a commitment to transparency that has led Felipe VI to publish part of his finances, although many experts assure that it is not enough.

Political instability

The fragmentation of Parliament and the birth of new parties starting in 2015 ended the absolute majorities and caused negotiation and pacts to be the new reality. This new normal also affected Felipe VI, who since his first round of consultations to form a government in January 2016 has received political parties to try to close an investiture on up to ten occasions. As EFE indicates, these are the same times as King Juan Carlos in the almost four decades of his reign.

The new monarch has also experienced some exceptional and unprecedented situations since he ascended the throne. One of them was the refusal of Mariano Rajoy to run for office despite being the candidate with the most votes in 2016 and the second was the motion of censure by which Pedro Sánchez arrived at Moncloa in June 2018, the first motion of the democracy to succeed.

The demonstration against the attacks on La Rambla and Cambrils

It is not usual for the head of State to participate in any demonstration given the political and ideological neutrality that the Crown must maintain, but Felipe VI did want to be present at the demonstration that was held in Barcelona against the attacks on La Rambla and Cambrils on December 17. August 2017.

It is the only demonstration that the monarch has attended in this decade of his reign and the first after participating, still as Prince of Asturias, in the march called after the 11-M attacks. Felipe VI and the then president of the government, Mariano Rajoy, were received in Barcelona with loud whistles and boos.

The conflict in Catalonia

After several days in which half of Spain wondered where the Head of State was, Felipe VI gave a speech on October 3, 2017 after the 1-O referendum in Catalonia. In his message to the nation, the monarch harshly attacked the Government and the authorities of Catalonia, whom he accused of placing themselves «clearly and emphatically on the margins of law and democracy.»

The king accused the Generalitat government of “irresponsible behavior” and “disloyalty”, advocating for a “space of harmony and encounter with all his fellow citizens” in Catalonia and Spain. “It is the responsibility of the legitimate powers of the State to ensure the constitutional order and the functioning of the institutions, the validity of the Rule of Law and the self-government of Catalonia,” Felipe VI declared then in his more than six-minute speech.

Applauded and criticized in equal parts, in the monarch's message there was also space to address all citizens: “I convey to you a message of tranquility, trust and also hope. These are difficult times, but we will get through it, we will move forward. Because we believe in our country and we feel proud. Because our democratic principles are strong and solid, because they are based on the desire of millions of Spaniards to live in peace and freedom."

Family relationships

Trying to recover the reputation of the Crown has led Felipe VI to distance himself from his family during these years. In addition to the erosion of his relationship with his father, the relationship between the king and his sisters, the infantas Elena and Cristina, has also been fracturing since he has been at the head of the institution.

In these ten years, there has also been a long debate about Letizia's bad relationship with Queen Sofía, which became evident after the famous scuffle in Palma Cathedral in 2018. The scene of tension between both queens not only made clear the There is little harmony between the two but rather the relationship between the emeritus and her granddaughters, whom according to several journalists specialized in the royal family, she barely sees.

The scuffle caused a crisis that Zarzuela tried to calm days later, when the king and queen went to visit Juan Carlos I in the hospital after a knee operation. Queen Letizia opened the car door for Sofía when she arrived at the center, in a gesture that many interpreted as a kind of public 'forgiveness' to her mother-in-law.

The state visit to Cuba

During his first decade of reign, Felipe VI has traveled a lot and one of the most significant trips so far was to Cuba in November 2019. The king, accompanied by Queen Letizia, became the first monarch to make a state visit to the island.

As reported at the time, after it was attempted on several occasions during the reign of Juan Carlos I, Zarzuela prepared, in collaboration with the government, the visit to Cuba less than a year in advance under the pretext of the 500th anniversary of the founding. from the city of Havana.

The scandals of King Juan Carlos and his departure to Abu Dhabi

On March 15, 2020, while Spaniards were waiting for hospitals, relatives and trying to adapt to confinement, the royal family issued a statement announcing that it was renouncing its father's inheritance. The text came days after it became known that Felipe VI was listed as a beneficiary of two foundations related to King Juan Carlos's foreign businesses for which he would have collected commissions.

Felipe VI not only renounced any type of inheritance derived from these foundations, but he also did so on behalf of Princess Leonor, who was still a minor.

Furthermore, the new monarch announced in the text that he was withdrawing from his father his official allocation set at 194,232 euros in the budgets of the royal household after the emeritus had several open court cases.

Five months later, in August, King Juan Carlos announced in a letter that he had decided to move his tax residence to Abu Dhabi, “given the public impact that certain past events in my private life are having.” Two years later, in 2022, the emeritus announced to his son that he would establish his residence in the Emirates, but that he would travel “frequently” to Spain after the Prosecutor's Office closed the legal cases that it had open.

The pandemic

In addition to unprecedented situations at the political level, during his first ten years as King Felipe VI he has also experienced an event as exceptional as the coronavirus pandemic. A week after the State of Alarm was declared and citizens were confined to their homes, the monarch addressed the Spanish people on March 18 in a message in which he did not mention the situation with his father and limited himself to focusing on the pandemic.

“This virus will not defeat us. On the contrary, it will make us stronger as a society,” said the monarch, who presided over the state funeral for the victims. Once the confinement ended, Felipe and Letizia toured different parts of Spain to try to reconnect with citizens and encourage national tourism.

The return of the emeritus

After two years away in Abu Dhabi, King Juan Carlos returned to Spain in May 2022 in a context of maximum expectation. The emeritus landed in Vigo to participate in the Sanxenxo regattas, took a mass bath and mockingly answered several reporters who asked him if he was going to give explanations about his finances.

Juan Carlos I did not spend the night in Zarzuela but he did make a stop at the palace to meet with Felipe VI before heading back to the Emirates. Of course, no details were revealed about the reunion and the meeting between father and son.

Since that first visit, the emeritus has returned to Spain with more and more regularity and less expectation. In addition, King Juan Carlos and Kings Felipe and Letizia have been seen together in public. At the mass tribute to Constantine of Greece last February, father and son staged their coming together, leaving St. George's Chapel in Windsor arm in arm. For many experts, these types of images are not coincidental and the royal house would be preparing the ground for a possible definitive return of the 86-year-old emeritus to Spain.

Leonor's oath of the Constitution

Felipe VI's mission since he ascended the throne has been to rebuild a monarchy eroded by scandals and ensure its survival. For this reason, the royal house has attempted to separate Leonor's figure from her grandfather, King Juan Carlos, and position her as the future of the institution as Princess of Asturias.

That future was sealed on October 31, when the heiress turned 18 and swore the Constitution in the Congress of Deputies. Currently Leonor is focused on her military training and, when I finish, it will be time to begin her university stage as she increasingly joins the institutional agenda and her representative function.

Zarzuela's pending task with Leonor is for the Spanish to know her and learn more about her. For this, experts agree that as more events are held, a specific social media profile will be created for the princess and with a language closer to that of her generation without losing sight of the formality of the institution.

Ten years of reign of Felipe VI

Several official events celebrated the tenth anniversary of the proclamation of Felipe VI as king of Spain. Among them, the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace presided over from the balcony of the throne room (in the image). «Today I reaffirm with enthusiasm and determination in that commitment that has permeated every gesture and every word in the past decade,» he said in his subsequent speech.

The Constitution to which Felipe VI swore allegiance ten years ago has once again been the protagonist of the speech with which, a decade later, he has renewed his commitment to citizens. Felipe VI wanted to celebrate his ten-year reign with a series of events throughout this Wednesday, but without clouding the rest of the news. That is why while the Royal Family presided over the solemn changing of the guard in the Plaza de la Armería, a angry session of control of the Government was held in the Congress of Deputies, in which, while the King stood as a symbol of unity and permanence, the political parties talked about singular financing and quotas.

With a «sorry for sneaking in,» Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía surprised King Felipe VI and Letizia Ortiz. She has been a token of gratitude with a few brief words for her parents, for her teachings during all these years.

The two sisters have broken protocol and interrupted the gala lunch to reaffirm the entire family's commitment to the monarchy.

They read a text from their cell phone, between gestures of complicity, and then kissed Don Felipe and Doña Letizia before returning to the table.

One of the surprises of this day celebrating the anniversary of ten years since his proclamation as king.

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