Key moments from ten years of King Felipe VI’s reign

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King Felipe VI

Today, Felipe VI, along with Queen Letizia and their daughters, commemorates the tenth anniversary of his reign. On June 19, 2014, Felipe VI was proclaimed King of Spain following the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos I. This event marked a new chapter in the Spanish monarchy.

During his proclamation ten years ago, Felipe VI advocated for a “united and diverse Spain” and promised to uphold the constitution and the rights of all Spaniards. Today’s celebration in Madrid includes the ceremonial discharge of the Royal Guard, the awarding of honours to unknown citizens, and an institutional luncheon, all taking place at the Royal Palace of Madrid. The festive day will conclude with a concert by the Royal Guard music band and violinist Ara Malikian.

In the past decade, Felipe VI has conducted ten rounds of political consultations to appoint a candidate for the formation of a new government. His father undertook the same task only 10 times in his 39-year reign. This increased frequency reflects the current political fragmentation and instability in Spain. Only three of these rounds have resulted in successful government formations. Over his ten years as king, Felipe VI has faced various challenges.

The Nóos scandal

One of the greatest challenges for the Spanish monarchy was the Nóos scandal. Iñaki Urdangarin, the ex-husband of Felipe’s sister Cristina, was sentenced to prison for fraud. This scandal severely damaged the reputation of the royal family and generated much negative publicity. Additionally, Infanta Cristina was also put on trial for tax evasion.

Catalan independence crisis

The Catalan independence crisis peaked in 2017 with the illegal referendum and the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament. Felipe VI condemned the actions of the Catalan leaders in a televised address, emphasising the need to maintain Spanish unity.

Terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils

In August 2017, terrorist attacks occurred on Las Ramblas in Barcelona and on the promenade in Cambrils, resulting in 16 deaths and over a hundred injuries. Felipe VI attended memorial ceremonies and showed solidarity with the victims and their families.

The Order of the Golden Fleece for Princess Leonor

On his 50th birthday in January 2018, Felipe VI awarded the Order of the Golden Fleece to his daughter, Princess Leonor. This ceremony symbolised the continuity of the monarchy and reinforced Leonor’s role as heir to the throne.

40th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution

During the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution in December 2018, Felipe VI highlighted the importance of the democratic values that his father, Juan Carlos I, had helped to establish. This event marked the last official joint appearance of father and son.

Renunciation of his father’s inheritance

On March 15, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Felipe VI announced that he was renouncing his personal inheritance from his father. He also ended the annual allowance of €200,000 for Juan Carlos I. This decision followed revelations about alleged financial misconduct by the former king.

Juan Carlos I leaves Spain

In August 2020, Juan Carlos I left Spain amid investigations into his financial dealings. He settled in Abu Dhabi, causing a rift between father and son. Despite the controversy, Felipe VI expressed his “respect and gratitude” towards his father.

Restoration of relations with Juan Carlos I

The relationship between Felipe VI and his father has improved over time. They have appeared together publicly on several occasions, including the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and private gatherings such as Princess Leonor’s 18th birthday.

Press reactions

The newspaper El Mundo highlights King Felipe VI’s efforts to renew and maintain the monarchy despite challenges such as political corruption, separatist movements, and personal scandals. Deputy Director Jorge Bustos praises the king for his long-term vision and optimism and his ability to keep the monarchy relevant and respected. He concludes his argument on a positive note about the future, with the hope that Princess Leonor, the heir to the throne, will continue her father’s constitutional course.

The more left-leaning newspaper VozPopuli also emphasises the stability and balance that the Spanish king provides in an uncertain world. Despite political turmoil and personal challenges, the newspaper praises his integrity and impeccable conduct. VozPopuli also admires Felipe VI as a dedicated father and a moral example.

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