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Prince Felipe ascends to Spanish throne on Thursday, unleashes fresh hope

Published on Jun 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Spain's Princess Letizia and Crown Prince Felipe walk through the throne room as they attend a welcome ceremony before a gala dinner for Mexico's President Enrique Pena at the Royal Palace in Madrid June 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's future King Felipe VI, a tall, blue-eyed former Olympic yachtsman, ascends the throne on Thursday, rising in popularity despite scandals that battered the reputation of his father and elder sister.

In the first royal succession since the Spanish monarchy was re-established after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, Prince Felipe, 46, is being touted as the symbol of a much-needed new generation.

When he stands on the palace's front balcony as the new king alongside his queen, the glamorous 41-year-old Letizia, the royals are no doubt hoping that Spaniards massed below will be cheering on a new reign with a fresh slate.

Prince Felipe's 76-year-old father, King Juan Carlos, who walks with a cane after repeated hip operations, fell foul of public opinion in 2012 when he took a luxury African elephant-hunting in the midst of Spain's recession.

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