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After the country recovered from the shocking news on June 2 about King Juan Carlos abdication, it was announced that his son Felipe VI would be crowned on June 19.

Juan Carlos ruled for 39-years following the rowdy times of dictator Francisco Franco, so Felipe VI’s coronation will be the first one Spain has seen since his father’s in 1975 and he is the first Spanish monarch to directly inherit the crown in centuries. The last one was Felipe V in 1701.

Hours after Juan Carlos I announced his abdication, thousands of anti-monarchy protesters took to the streets ahead of the coronation of Felipe VI to ask for the abolition of the monarchy. The king made mistakes like we all do, but on balance, there can be no question that his reign has been positive and King Juan Carlos will be remembered as a rallying figure who brought Spaniards together during the transitional period from Franco’s dictatorship to a new democracy. He has been the best symbol of a peaceful coexistence and Spain’s best spokesman. 

But really the question of whether a modern democracy needs a king in 2014 is another question. The fact today is that the 1978 Spanish constitution was established with a majority support of the monarchy.

Felipe VI will be crowned at a time of great dissatisfaction, not only with the royals, but the economic and social problems in all of Spain and his first task will be to try to work with all sides. Not an easy job indeed.

But how is really the new King of Spain, Felipe VI?

Felipe is the third child and only son of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain. Born on January 30, 1968, inMadrid, Spain, Felipe known also as Felipe de Borbon y Grecia as well as the Prince of Asturias was a popular figure as a schoolboy, dodging palace bodyguards assigned to him by enlisting the help of his chums. 

Apart from stints in all three branches of the armed forces, the 6ft 4in royal has studied abroad - in the US, Canada and Brussels - and has both a masters degree in international relations and a law degree. He speaks French and fluent English, Greek and Catalanian.

He also loves astronomy, skiing and sailing. He even competed in the 1992 Olympics as a member of the Spanish sailing team, in the same way his father did two decades before. Felipe took part in the opening ceremony as the Spanish team’s flag bearer. He finished in sixth place in the soling class and obtained an Olympic diploma. Navigation is linked to his holiday in Majorca, an island that loves and in which he feels very comfortable.

His role as heir to the Spanish throne, meant Felipe's love life was inevitably the focus of much media speculation. He enjoyed a high-profile five-year courtship with Norwegian model Eva Sannum, which had inspired a debate in Spain as to whether the Prince should be able to marry a commoner. That relationship came to an end, however, when the prince announced it had failed to "thrive". 

Other girlfriends included US Giselle Howard, German royal Carolina de Waldburg, and aristocrat Isabel Sartorius, with whom he ended a similarly controversial romance in 1992.

Felipe had always insisted that whoever he chose, it would be "a relationship based on love, respect and kindness", and when the royal palace made the surprise announcement of his engagement to 31-year-old newsreader Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano (a commoner, divorcée and popular public figure) it seemed the Prince had kept his word. 

The pair tied the knot in the summer of 2004 in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral. Their first child, daugther Leonor, was born on October 31, 2005, and the couple welcomed their second daughter, Sofia, on April 29, 2007.

The love and respect Felipe looked for in his life partner is also reflected in the attitude he holds towards his parents. "In the king (Juan Carlos) I have a father, but also a leader, a friend and a counsellor," he says. "My mother has provided the humane, intellectual and spiritual part of my upbringing. I’ve often been described as being a combination of both my parents, physically and in character."

In addition to his official activities, Felipe is Honorary President of several associations and foundations, such as the Imperial Munitions Board, which finances specific economic and social development activities in Ibero-America and other countries, and the Spanish branch of the Association of European Journalists, which is composed of outstanding communications professionals. Most noteworthy is the Príncipe de Asturias Foundation, where he presides annually the awards ceremony of the highly prestigious Prince of Asturias Awards, at the international level, that carry his name.

Within the framework of these institutions which work towards aims of general interest, Felipe focuses his interest on activities in the fields of development projects, voluntary work, the environment, universities, the integration of young people in the workplace and business, relations between business circles and society and social communication.

On the occasion of the United Nations declaration of 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers, the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, named Felipe an "Eminent Person" so that he could contribute on an international level towards enhancing the importance of voluntary workers.

It's said that he is the most accomplished Prince nowadays and also he knows to sew a button or make an Spanish omelette. Those who know him as a child say "he has never been given importance by being who he is. And that, coupled with their "listening" and his insightful reviews, makes him to have a seductive effect on their partners.

About who has influenced him the most is the King, who has transmitted his love for his country above and also his mother whom he owes his good manners and education. But whom he really takes after is his grandfather Paul, the father of the Queen Sofia, who was an exemplary man and a great King of Greece .

Don Felipe’s wife, Doña Letizia, has also greatly influenced him. He has become more human and closer and has helped him to communicate better in public. Indeed, Don Felipe had noticed her as a television news presenter of TVE. Then I was impressed by his professionalism on the job, but since he met personally liked "much more." She was a bright girl, full of sparkle, judiciously, tenaciously defending their arguments and feet on earth.

When Don Felipe was a kid wanted to be an astrophysicist and still loves scientific discoveries and technological innovations, but the real passion in his life is politics in the highest sense. When he had the chance to complete his education he chose an MA in International Relations.

It's been 18 years in which he has served as an apprentice King, so his new life as Head of State will not be so different to the latter years.

Don Felipe will keep on living in the same house he has lived since June 2002, a Spanish house of 1,700 square metersdivided into four levels: a basement (service area), ground floor (initially was given official use) and a first floor and an attic (both are the private area).

The new King will continue getting up at seven o'clock, as usual, and after having breakfast with his wife and daughters will walk to the ZarzuelaPalace. But instead of heading to the small room located in a basement that had been issued so far, he will be installed in the bright office Rey, close to the Audience Hall.

His assistants admire him. No one has received an only scold from the Prince. They say that while he is very demanding of himself, he is sympathetic to the faults of others.

Don Felipe is meticulous in his job. He travels with his I-Pad, which carries all his reports. He doesn’t use much papers. He also likes watching some movie when he finishes working to relax. His favourite hobby is going to the cinema. And also he loves reading history books and great writers. Don Felipe likes to drive and does it in all private journeys, though for security reasons, he changes cars often.

He also likes to have lunch and dinner out with family and friends. He enjoys good wine and good food. He likes both the Spanish traditional food and exotic oriental dishes, from burgers and pizzas shared with her daughters to the sophistication of the new kitchen.

About his image, he really doesn’t need to take great care of himself to offer an unblemished image. He likes wearing short hair to prevent it from forming curls. When he needs to buy clothes, he uses intermediaries or requests to be carried to Zarzuela. He only goes shopping to buy a gift or an emergency, as the day he was seen shopping yogurts in a supermarket.

On June 19 Felipe will become the youngest king of European monarchies while Leonor, with only 8 years, will be the youngest heir to the royal houses.

As he assumes his new role, Felipe VI is seen as the hope to unite a country that has been severely affected by the worldwide financial crisis and high unemployment in recent years. Let’s give him an opportunity to show how well accomplished he is for it.

Long life to the new King!

This post first appeared on Sangria, Sol Y Siesta, please read the originial post: here

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