Prince Felipe VI proclaimed King of Spain

Published: June 19, 2014 at 9:42 AM

JC Finley

MADRID, June 19 (UPI) -- Felipe VI was proclaimed Spain's new king on Thursday.

The crown was officially handed over at the stroke of midnight by his father, King Juan Carlos, who recently announced his abdication.

King Felipe VI, clad in military uniform and standing in a packed parliamentary chamber, swore an oath to uphold the constitution and promised to lead a monarchy "for new times."

At a time when Spain is beset by economic troubles and there is a referendum for Catalonia's independence, the new king spoke of leading a transparent monarchy, fueling modernization, unifying Spain, and working with its political leaders.

He urged his citizenry to "look ahead to the Spain we are building together as I begin this reign."

"We have a great country, we are a great nation -- let us trust in it."

Crowds cheered "Long live the king" in Spanish as King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, and their daughters stepped onto the balcony of the royal palace.

Three weeks earlier, Juan Carlos made the surprise announcement that he would abdicate the throne. He has earlier said that his son, Felipe, has "the maturity, the preparation and the sense of responsibility necessary" to be king and "to lead to a new stage of hope using his experience and the drive of a new generation."

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