Crown Prince Sworn In As King Felipe VI of Spain

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By Christine Jane Caparras | June 20, 2014 6:41 PM EST

Thursday marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in Spanish history. Not only did their wildly successful National Football Team return home after unceremoniously exiting the 2014 FIFA World Cup in the first round, the country also saw the exit of King Juan Carlos, the monarch who has led the country for many years. King Juan Carlos made his abdication official and his son, the Crown Prince Felipe has been sworn in as King Felipe VI and was welcomed to his seat by cheers and thousands of waving Spanish flags.

REUTERS
Spain's new King Felipe VI, his wife Queen Letizia, Princess Sofia and Princess Leonor (L) appear on the balcony of the Royal Palace in Madrid, June 19, 2014. Spain's new king, Felipe VI, was sworn in on Thursday in a low-key ceremony which monarchists hope will usher in a new era of popularity for the troubled royal household.

The Spanish monarchy as of late, has been riddled with controversies ranging from the King's elephant hunting, rumours of a mistress and corruption accusations towards Infanta Cristina and her husband. Unrest in the country has also been rising after they were hit hard by the worldwide recession in the late 2000's, something that they are still struggling to recover from to this day.

Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of his son in the hopes that the younger generation will be better equipped to run the country. The popularity of King Felipe's wife and now Queen, Letizia Rocasolano is also expected to help uplift the monarchy and bring them back in favour with the masses. Felipe is now 46 while his beautiful queen is a youthful-looking 41 year old. They have two daughters, the princesses Leonor, 8 and Sophia, 7.

Meet Queen Letizia of Spain

After the announcement of Juan Carlos's abdication, protests broke out in the Spanish capital calling for the abolishment of the monarchy with citizens calling to question the relevance of the monarchy in modern times. Separatist protests also broke out in Catalunya.

In his oath, King Felipe spoke about unity among Spain's diverse regions and taking steps towards a solution to the economic crisis that has resulted in over a quarter of the country's workforce out of employment.

Juan Carlos is credited for bringing peace and democracy back to Spain after ascending to the throne after the death of Dictator General Franco in 1975. His son now aims to bring a renewed monarchy in Spain and bring back the Royal family's relevance despite giving up all but ceremonial powers back in 1978.

The ceremony was very modest and formal. No foreign heads of state or dignitaries were invited and no state banquet was planned. All this is in line with the Royal Family's efforts to show austerity in times of crisis and to steer away from criticism about the Royals' lavish spending in the middle of an economic crisis. Juan Carlos, his wife the now Queen Regent Reina Sophia, King Felipe, Queen Letizia and their daughters held the ceremony only amongst lawmakers and other close family members in Spain's House of Parliament.

The Royal couple made their first appearance as King and Queen in the balcony of the Royal Palace and waved to the cheering crowd that had gathered in Plaza Oriente.

In a symbolic move to emphasize his aim to build a unified and diverse country, King Felipe VI ended his speech in Castilian, Catalan, Galician and Basque, the four most widely spoken languages in Spain.

"We have a great country. We are a great nation and we should have confidence in it. I am proud of the Spanish people and I hope that they are proud of their new King." he ended. 

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(Photo: REUTERS / Andrea Comas)
Spain's new King Felipe VI, his wife Queen Letizia, Princess Sofia and Princess Leonor (L) appear on the balcony of the Royal Palace in Madrid, June 19, 2014. Spain's new king, Felipe VI, was sworn in on Thursday in a low-key ceremony which monarchists hope will usher in a new era of popularity for the troubled royal household.
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