Queen Elizabeth II with King Juan Carlos. :: E.C. Y REUTERS
The landmark decision by the King to abdicate has been met with surprise, shock and celebration as the country prepares for the first succession in post-Franco Spain.
While Juan Carlos was a key figure during the transition from dictatorship to democracy, his approval rating has crashed in recent years.
The Spanish Royal family has been tarnished by a series of scandals leading many to question whether they are still of value in a modern-day Spain.
The decision came as no shock for Caroline Gérola from France who believes that the King’s ill health and recent scandals forced him to take the decision. “I wasn’t really surprised when I heard of the news. After the corruption scandal with his son-in-law and the elephant hunting story he has been forced to take the decision,” said Gérola.
Indeed, there is a high mistrust of Spain’s political elite - in the recent European elections leftist anti-monarchist parties won 20 per cent of the vote. “I was happy when I heard of the abdication, but I don’t believe his son should continue. For me, royalty shouldn’t exist in the 21st century whether it be in Spain, England or anywhere else,” said Englishman Craig Wilson.
Time for change
While some believe that the monarchy should be abolished altogether, others have stated that it is the right time for change so that the royal family can modernise. Jaqueline Kocknix, from Belgium, thinks that it was a good decision for the king to abdicate. “He is now the hero because he decided to quit and pass the throne on to his son. It really is time to change the image of the Spanish royal family,” revealed Kocknix.
The focus now shifts to Prince Felipe who has the difficult task of uniting a turbulent Spain as his father did nearly 40 years ago. With unemployment hovering at 25 per cent and a growing popularity for Catalonia’s independence movement, the task will not be straightforward
However, the approval rating of the Prince and his wife, Letizia, is higher than that of the king as the heir to the throne has avoided the scandals surrounding his other members of the royal family.
Many are looking forward to how the country will cope with the change and if Felipe will be successful in his role. Gabriele Neumeier, from Germany, approves of the abdication. “I am excited to see what new ideas Felipe and Letizia will bring to the table,” she said.
While there is mixed public opinion on the shift along the Costa, the Gibraltar authorities have wished Felipe luck in his new role. “Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar takes the opportunity to wish Spain’s future King, Don Felipe de Borbón, present Príncipe de Asturias, a successful future in the hugely demanding task that awaits him as the new Head of State of our neighbouring country and assures him of all respect for his role in the context of the Spanish Constitution,” revealed an official statement.
In the media, foreign newspapers including The New York Times and The Guardian revealed the discontent that many Spaniards have with the monarchy as they have taken to the streets this week to call for its abolishment.