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Felipe VI: 10 years of the king who put out the fire of his father’s scandals

Felipe VI: 10 years of the king who put out the fire of his father’s scandals

Felipe VI: 10 years of the king who put out the fire of his father’s scandals

King Philip VI He assumed the throne exactly 10 years ago with the mission of restoring the image of the Spanish monarchy. The context was challenging in the political, economic and social world, but perhaps even more so in the family world. His father, Juan Carlos I, threw in the towel early, involved in public and private scandals that led to his abdication and subsequent exile. “A fair, honest and transparent crown” and “a monarchy renewed for a new time” was what the new monarch promised in his proclamation speech on June 19, 2014.

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At 46 years old, the Prince of Asturias became the youngest king in Europe. It occurred 17 days after emeritus Juan Carlos I communicated his abdication to the head of the Government, Mariano Rajoy. Felipe VI did not have the gray hair that fills his hair and beard today, and his daughters, Leonor and Sofia, were still children. He had already been married for 10 years to Letizia Ortiz, the first princess of Asturias without a monarchical lineage.

The political and institutional crisis would end up marking the beginning of Felipe VI’s reign. In 2015, the two-party system, supporting the monarchical institution, suffered one of its worst results at the polls. Podemos and Ciudadanos consolidated as emerging forces and polarization began to grow.

Turmoil in the political arena has been virtually constant over the past 10 years. Felipe VI witnessed five general elections and ten rounds of meetings to propose a candidate, the same ones that Juan Carlos I called in almost 39 years, notes the AFP agency.

The King of Spain, Felipe VI, together with the Head of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez. (Photo: AFP).

Another hard blow was the independence process of Catalonia, which held its first citizen consultation in 2014, which was considered illegal. Concern about the separatist threat occupied a large part of La Zarzuela’s agenda. In his speech on the Catalan challenge in October 2017, the monarch spoke of a situation of “extreme gravity” and denounced the “unacceptable disloyalty to the powers of the State” of Catalan leaders.

“The Catalan challenge has been, until now, the most serious of the reign”, points out the Spanish newspaper “El País”. Even higher than what the emeritus king had to face in the attempted coup d’état on February 23, 1981, according to analysts consulted by the media.

Felipe VI had to face these challenges amid the disaster of his father’s image that led to his accession to the throne.

Juan Carlos I was involved in financial and love scandals which, together with his state of health, fueled the debate about his succession. A particularly embarrassing one was discovered in 2012, when the sovereign suffered an accident during a wildlife hunt in Botswana, which revealed that while thousands of Spaniards were being laid off and evicted, the king was posing for photographs next to a dead elephant.

At that time, the Nóos case had already broken out, which investigated a network of corruption and which led to accusations against his daughter and son-in-law, Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin, who was finally convicted in 2017 and sent to prison.

Juan Carlos I himself was investigated by the Public Ministry, which sought to determine whether the monarch had collected commissions for awarding a contract to two Spanish companies for the construction of a high-speed train in Saudi Arabia in 2011.

King Felipe VI and his father embrace after the imposition of the captain-general sash.

King Felipe VI and his father embrace after the imposition of the captain-general sash.

“The scandals were such that if King Juan Carlos did not leave, the monarchy would fall. The most critical issue at the time was the popularity of the monarchy; the institution needed to be saved; When the king abdicated, the level of popularity was very low, there were demonstrations in many Spanish squares with the flag of the Republic,” Arnaldo Mera, PUCP historian and royal expert, told El Comercio.

The Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation in 2018 into a transfer made in 2008 of 100 million dollars by the king of Saudi Arabia to a Swiss account of which Juan Carlos I was a beneficiary, but ultimately concluded that it was “a gift”.

Juan Carlos I went into exile in August 2020 in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) amid suspicions of having illegally increased his fortune. Two years later he returned to Spain for a brief visit.

Another of the scandals that ended up crumbling the image of the emeritus monarch had as its protagonist the German businesswoman Corinna Larsen, with whom she had an extramarital relationship between 2004 and 2009. The woman ended up making the details of her relationship public and denounced Juan. Carlos I for harassment before British justice in 2020.

Corinna Larsen says she had a “romantic relationship” with Juan Carlos I from 1975 until his abdication in 2014.

Corinna Larsen says she had a “romantic relationship” with Juan Carlos I from 1975 until his abdication in 2014.

The suit claimed that while Juan Carlos I was king, he threatened, monitored and defamed her, claiming she was left with 65 million euros.

According to the indictment, Larsen received all or part of the money the king received as an alleged gift from Saudi Arabia. In court documents presented in 2022, the German woman’s lawyers assure that although Juan Carlos gave her 65 million euros claiming “a affection for her and her children that he was unable to reflect in his will”, his intention was in fact to hide it. them from the treasury. .Spanish, using her as frontman.

Larsen also revealed the existence of “foundations” that managed an unknown amount of millions of euros coming from tax havens. “One of them, Zagatka, had as administrator the cousin of the current king emeritus, and from him private trips were paid for by the Spanish Royal Family” with funds of unknown origin, points out the media outlet “elDiario.es”.

The media recalls that it was the revelation that there was an investigation by the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office into the alleged donation to Larsen that made Felipe VI decide to opt for more drastic actions.

“On March 15, when the country was plunged into a state of alarm due to the coronavirus of uncertain duration, Felipe announced that he was withdrawing the constitutional grant to his father and renouncing his inheritance. An English media outlet had just published that Felipe was the beneficiary of that inheritance from an offshore company that had been used to channel the donation to Larsen,” he highlights.

Mera highlights that there is no doubt that Felipe managed to revive the image of the monarchy thanks to the team that surrounds him and fundamental decisions such as distancing himself from his family and prioritizing only the nucleus made up of his wife and daughters.

“Felipe separated his sister, Infanta Cristina, and her offspring. According to the Spanish Constitution, the children of Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina have the right to the throne. But in these 10 years they have been completely ignored. None of these grandchildren of monarch emeritus Juan Carlos appeared representing the State. In these 10 years, the king managed to make the royal family identify only with his two daughters. There has been a whole mechanism for girls to be seen as the future,” he highlights.

The Spanish royal family is on vacation in Mallorca (Photo: AFP)

The Spanish royal family on vacation in Mallorca (Photo: AFP) (JAIME REINA/)

On the other hand, the current monarch also distanced himself from his father on simpler issues such as the granting of noble titles. King Juan Carlos I granted Mario Vargas Llosa and former Spanish national football team coach Vicente del Bosque marquisados, something that had not been seen in the last 10 years.

Despite this strategy, the Spanish monarch still faces unresolved family problems, especially with regard to his father. In fact, one of the biggest criticisms he receives from left-wing political parties is that the issues of corruption surrounding the king emeritus have not yet been clarified.

“Felipe managed to get out of several political holes, but in relation to his father’s controversies, nothing could be done. Juan Carlos’ exile is an issue that they have not been able to deal with well. Legally the king is untouchable, that’s the problem. When he abdicated, the problems did not end. Although Felipe renounced his inheritance at the beginning of the pandemic, legally this cannot happen because the deceased has not yet died”, highlights Mera.

Spanish media agree that Felipe made an effort to build an image of a responsible and disciplined person. “The king knew how to overcome problems through his personality and charisma. He is an impeccable man, but his father’s influences do not disappear and will not disappear”, says Mera.

Therefore, the expert emphasizes, although the monarch has an “impeccable image”, the objective is to serve as a bridge to save the institution so that it reaches his daughter in a clean way, because the father’s splashes still reached him.

At the end of 2023, the Princess of Asturias turned 18 and swore to fulfill her duties before the Constitution, which consecrated her as heir to the throne.

The Crown Princess of Asturias Leonor participates with the President of the Congress Francina Armengol in a ceremony of oath of allegiance to the Constitution, on her 18th birthday, at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid, on October 31, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

The Crown Princess of Asturias Leonor participates with the President of the Congress Francina Armengol in a ceremony of oath of allegiance to the Constitution, on her 18th birthday, at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid, on October 31, 2023. (Photo: AFP) (ANDRES BALLESTEROS /)

Source: Elcomercio

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