The statue of Alfonso XII on the Balcón de Europa in Nerja. / SUR

14 January 1875: Alfonso XII arrives in Madrid to take the Spanish throne

Spain's history includes a peaceful and much-loved monarch, Alfonso XII, who was in England when he agreed to become king

ALEKK M. SAANDERS

Alfonso XII is known as El Pacificador or the Peacemaker as he devoted much of his efforts to strengthening the monarchy and putting an end to the confrontations of previous periods. He was the son of Isabella II and Francisco de Asís, Duke of Cadiz.

When Queen Isabella and her husband were forced to leave Spain by the Revolution of 1868, Alfonso accompanied them to Paris. From there, he was sent to Vienna to continue his studies.

On 25 June 1870, he was recalled to Paris, where his mother abdicated in his favour. Shortly afterwards, Alfonso went to the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in England in order to complete his military studies.

It was while he was in England, that the Spanish prince agreed to become king and supporter of a constitutional monarchy by signing a political manifesto (later named as the Sandhurst Manifesto) on 1 December 1874. That document was devised and produced by Malaga-born politician and historian, Antonio Cánovas del Castillo.

SUR

The Spanish press published the manifesto on 27 December. Only two days later, General Martínez Campos carried out a military uprising in Sagunto (Valencia) with hardly any opposition, and proclaimed Alfonso XII the King of Spain. On 14 January 1875, the new king arrived in Madrid. On his way there he had passed through Barcelona and, and apparently had been met with acclamation everywhere.

Much later Malaga was also visited by the monarch but on a rather tragic occasion. A devastating earthquake had been registered in Granada province on 25 December 1884, affecting the eastern part of Malaga province. King Alfonso XII travelled to the areas destroyed by the earthquake; it is thought he visited about 25 villages between 10 and 20 January 1885, travelling on horseback in severe weather.

On 28 February 2003, the bronze monument to Alfonso XII was inaugurated on the Balcony of Europe in Nerja. The statue, created by the artist Francisco Martín, commemorates the king's visit to the town on 12 January 1885.

A popular story tells of how Alfonso XII stopped (at the end of that trip) in the district of El Palo in Malaga city. It is believed that at the restaurant La Gran Parada he was invited to taste the typical Malaga 'espetos de sardinas' (sardines on skewers). The owner of the well-known chiringuito, Miguel Martínez Soler, instructed the king on how to eat the fish correctly - with his fingers, and not a knife and fork.