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King Felipe VI takes Spanish throne

Published on Jun 19, 2014 7:02 AM

MADRID (AFP) - King Felipe VI took the Spanish crown on Thursday, setting the stage for celebrations in the flag-festooned capital a day after his father quit the throne with tears in his eyes.

The 46-year-old former Olympic yachtsman, who stands nearly two metres tall, assumed the crown after an emotional ceremony in the first royal succession of the post-Franco era.

Felipe legally became king at the stroke of midnight as an act of parliament signed by his father came into force, formalising the end of 76-year-old Juan Carlos’ 39-year reign. He faces a formidable challenge.

As king, Felipe must restore the image of the monarchy after his father’s reign became bogged down in scandal; inspire a people grappling with a 26 per cent unemployment rate; and try to unite the nation even as the north-eastern region of Catalonia seeks an independence referendum on Nov 9.

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