Soon-to-be-king Felipe calls for Spanish unity

Takes up the gauntlet, two weeks ahead of parliament's approval

05 June, 11:27

    (ANSAmed) - MADRID, JUNE 5 - Spain's king-in-waiting, Prince Felipe, on Wednesday told his soon-to-be-subjects that when he takes the throne he will work for a ''diverse and united'' nation.

    In his first public remarks since his father, King Juan Carlos, announced his decision to abdicate on Monday, the 46-year-old crown prince accompanied by his wife, former TV journalist Princess Letizia, spoke during a ceremony at the Monastery of Leyre in Navarre, where he bestowed the Prince of Viana cultural award on historian Tarsicio de Azcona.

    His sober and serious style just barely betraying emotion upon being greeting by long applause, the crown prince said he would dedicate ''all his strength, with hope and enthusiasm, to the passionate task of continuing to serve Spaniards and our beloved Spain, a nation and a social and political community that is united and diverse, and whose roots reach back thousands of years''.

    Parliament still needs to officially approve Felipe's succession, which could take place within two weeks. ''Allow me to respect the parliamentary process'', he said.

    The future King Felipe VI, the first of the Bourbons with academic studies under his belt, has been a monarch-in-training since the age of eight. His task will be to restore confidence in the scandal-tarnished monarchy and to guarantee the country's unity in the face of calls for secession.

    One of his major challenges will be Catalonia, which has called a referendum on independence on November 9. He is also tasked with renewal, as per his father's abdication speech in which the king said the time had come to step aside so that ''the new generation'' can lead the country past its economic, political and social crisis.

    ''In difficult periods such as these, past experience in history shows us that only by uniting our desires, putting the common good ahead of individual interests and promoting the initiative, curiosity and creativity of each person, can we manage to advance to better scenarios'', said the prince.

    After exchanging a complicit smile with his wife, Felipe winked at his first-born daughter and crown princess Leonor, who will begin her own education as a future monarch, including military training, at the age of seven. Once her father is proclaimed king, Leonor will take on the titles of princess of the Asturias, of Girona, and of Viana.


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