Five unusual facts about Spain's royals

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's King Felipe VI embarks on a new reign Thursday. Here are five unusual facts about the Spanish monarchy, which was restored in 1975:


In 1969, General Francisco Franco named Juan Carlos as his successor, making him Prince of Spain. The decision ignored the claim to the throne of Juan Carlos's father Juan de Borbon. Juan Carlos was reportedly pelted with fruit when travelling around Spain during the dictatorship, which ended with Franco's death on November 20, 1975. Once King Juan Carlos was crowned a few days after Franco's death, however, he guided Spain towards democracy.


In 1956, Juan Carlos, 18 at the time, witnessed his own brother Alfonso being shot and killed in an accident at the family's home in Estoril, Portugal. The brothers were reportedly playing with a gun at the time but the exact cause of the accident remains unclear.


A Russian official alleged that King Juan Carlos shot dead a tamed bear that had been made drunk on vodka during a hunting trip to the Vologda region of north-western Russia in July 2006. A spokesman for the Spanish embassy at the time described the claims, made by a regional hunt official, as "ridiculous".


In November 2007, King Juan Carlos asked then Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: "Why don't you shut up?" The king's outburst was apparently sparked by Chavez having described former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "fascist" during an Ibero-American summit. Chavez demanded an apology.


After King Felipe swears before Parliament on Thursday to "safeguard the constitution", the Spanish national anthem will be played. But no-one will be singing along because the Marcha Real has no lyrics. Spain's Olympic Committee revealed proposed new words for the anthem in January 2008 after holding a contest that lured 7,000 entries. But the lyrics, which included the phrase "Viva Espana" sparked fierce criticism, especially from the left, and had to be scrapped.

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