MADRID – Spain's new king Felipe VI will be 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.
Felipe becomes king after his father Juan Carlos abdicated earlier this month following a series of scandals that led many Spaniards to question the role of the monarchy itself. The ceremony, at Spain's lower house of the parliament, has little pomp and circumstance compared with royal handovers in other countries.
It is more of a legal process, attended by lawmakers, high-level politicians and some members of the royal family. No foreign leaders have been invited. The event has been designed to chime with times of austerity, palace officials say, mindful that more than one in four Spanish workers is jobless despite an incipient economic recovery.
Hopes for the new king are high, and some believe that, despite his role being mainly symbolic as head of state, he will use his position to push dialogue over the challenge of a separatist movement in wealthy northeastern Catalonia. Felipe, who is 46, will wear military uniform with a sash and swear loyalty to Spain's constitution before addressing the chamber.
He will then be driven through central Madrid with his wife, Queen Letizia, a former journalist. His father Juan Carlos will not attend the event to allow the spotlight to rest fully on the new monarch, according to the palace.