Abdication of Juan Carlos I and the Coronation of Felipe VI

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King of Spain Felipe VI
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King of Spain Felipe VI

On 2 June, 2014, Juan Carlos I announced his abdication and this announcement gave way to a frenetic period of political activity. Since there hadn't existed an abdication law that would indicate how to proceed or manage a change of authority, the country had to create a legal solution with great urgency. A new law was crafted and went up for vote in the Spanish Parliament on 13 June, 2014 and was signed into law by Juan Carlos on June 18 at 6:14pm.  This event presented a curious situation because during the following 5 hours and 46 minutes, Spain would be without a monarch. We need to remember that Felipe VI wouldn't become king until midnight on June 19.

June 19, the day of the coronation, can be divided into 3 key moments following the official protocol of the Spanish monarchy.

  • The first event was the granting of the title of Capitan General to Felipe VI. This ceremony took place in the Zarzuela Palace (the residence of the royal family). During the ceremony, Felipe VI received from Juan Carlos I the red silk sash that converts Felipe VI into the Commander in Chief of the Spanish military.
  • The second important event to take place was the coronation which took place before the Spanish Cortes (Parliament). During this ceremony, King Felipe VI took the oath of office swearing on the Spanish Constitution flanked by the royal crown and scepter. After taking his oath, he gave a speech which marked the start of his reign. It should be noted that a citation from Cervantes was used for the first time by a Spanish king: "One man is no more than another if he does no more than another". This citation, found in Don Quijote, expresses the understanding the King has in that he is willing to accept this responsibility and serves for the people.
  • The third event of importance took place at the Royal Palace when Felipe VI was received with a 20 gun salute shot from canons manned by the Royal Guard. Afterwards, the new royal family greeted the public from one of the balconies of the palace. Later, the new king and queen had a small reception where they received important personalities from Spanish culture and politics.

What has occurred these last few weeks will determine the agenda, procedures and protocol for future events of a similar nature. There have been few times when the people of a country feel as though they have taken part in precedence setting event which will mark future traditions.