The accession of King Felipe VI was a distinctly Spanish moment – dramatic, sudden and heralding possible uncertainty to come. The abdication of King Juan Carlos had certainly been dramatic and the nation had barely caught its breath at the prospect of a new era before the new monarch was installed. Having reigned for nearly four decades, King Juan Carlos had guided the nation through its transition from dictatorship to democracy and had for so long seemed a figure almost beyond reproach. Whilst the full story behind the abdication has yet to be told, the haste with which Felipe VI has been proclaimed means that the forty-six year-old inherits a throne facing some big challenges on the economy, national unity and, perhaps, the future of the monarchy itself.
King Felipe VI’s first speech to the nation was filled with good intent, a rallying cry for national unity and a combined effort to raise the country out of its current woes. It will be no easy task and some commentators noted that Felipe’s accession coincided with the national soccer team’s unexpected exit from the World Cup in Brazil, losing 2-0 to Chile. Losing a reigning king and their reign as soccer champions on the same day was, for some, a bad omen for Felipe. On the other hand it may equally be a sign that change is overdue and the affable new monarch comes to the throne with the hopes and also the goodwill of the Spanish people to spur him on.