Felipe VI has acceded to the Spanish throne after the abdication of his father became official at midnight Central European Time (11pm BST, 6pm EST). Spanish daily ABC reports that the new king will formally swear an oath in front of the Spanish parliament later today, in the presence of his wife, the new Queen Letizia, and two daughters.
King Felipe’s elder daughter, Princess Leonor, will now be known as Princess of Asturias, the traditional title of the heir apparent to the Spanish throne.
The new king’s first act today will be to present himself at the Zarzuela palace, the official residence of the Spanish monarch, where his father, the retiring King Juan Carlos, will present him with the sash of the Captain General of the Spanish armed forces.
He will then travel to the Spanish parliament where he will swear an oath to uphold the constitution and deliver a speech to the gathered legislators.
Afterwards, the new king and queen will be driven through Madrid’s streets before appearing on the front balcony of the royal palace.
This is first transition between monarchs in Spain since the monarchy was restored following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. Felipe’s father, Juan Carlos, is credited with restoring democracy after Franco’s death, peacefully transitioning his country into a stable, modern democracy.
Felipe will face serious challenges during his reign, however, including an ongoing corruption scandal involving his brother-in-law, flagging public support for the monarchy, and growing separatism in the regions of Catalonia and the Basque Country.