Felipe VI ascended the throne just over a month ago, but we are already seeing how social media is being used in an attempt to restore faith in the monarchy. The Spanish Royal Palace has become increasingly active on Twitter since King Juan Carlos’ abdication at the beginning of summer. The new King and his wife, Letizia, have began their reign with a new approach to a 21st century monarchy.
The couple – whose forward thinking ways have been likened to that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – have been hailed as modern monarchs by various international publications. Seemingly following on from King Juan Carlos’ premise to “reign for the people,” the Royals have been photographed posing for selfies with well-wishers.
As the pinnacle of Spain’s political system, the monarchy became embroiled in a generalised sense of resentment that erupted against the country’s corrupt elites. The Noos case was particularly damaging as Iñaki Urdangarin, the King’s son-in-law testified in court over allegations that he misused millions of euros of public money. The Royal Family has been facing increasing criticism in recent years, largely due to the King’s opulent lifestyle and their lack of transparency with regards to annual spending.
The new King and Queen, however, seem to have taken the criticism on board. The Spanish Royal Palace Twitter account, which has 146,000 followers, recently published a photograph of the Royals travelling by train in standard class.
Los Reyes viajan en tren a Valladolid. Premios Nacionales de Innovación y Diseño. pic.twitter.com/P3cJVibu7f
— Casa de S.M. el Rey (@CasaReal) July 1, 2014
Pilar Perez Roel, 45, is very close in age to King Felipe. Originally from Galicia, she was born and raised in London. In the summer of 1980 she attended a camp in Villanueva de la Vera (Cáceres), where she met the future King.
“It certainly seems that their every move is being Tweeted. It is their attempt to modernise themselves and create a little bit more transparency, I think he will do some good things for the country but Felipe and Letizia will have to work hard to change peoples’ opinions,” she says.
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Despite the Royal Palace’s attempt to paint the picture of an institution that is keeping with the times, some young Spaniards, forced into immigration by the economic downturn are still feeling resentful.
Maria Pacheco, 27, is an Art History graduate who has been living in London for three years.
“I don’t think that King Felipe VI is the right person for the job, but we have not been given a choice. I grew up thinking that a monarchy was the norm, but lost appreciation for it as I grew up. Their recent scandals make me feel very embarrassed and have led me to think that they are completely unnecessary. They are good for gossip magazines, though,” says Maria.
Iriana Gil, 26, finished her law degree last december and subsequently moved to the outskirts of London.
“I have always been a Republican and the Royal Family’s scandals in recent years have done very little to make me re-consider the way I think,” says Iriana.
Ana Mateos Comeron, 32, a teacher, has been in London for just over two years.
“When I was younger I thought that they were perfect and untouchable. Their recent corruption scandals have made me feel very disappointed. They are not going hungry like many Spanish families, who unfortunately may need to resort to stealing to feed themselves, ” she says.
A poll taken after King Juan Carlos announced his abdication on June 2 showed that 76.9 percent of the respondents have a very good opinion of Felipe. Whether Juan Carlos’s gamble of abdicating will prove successful or not will depend on whether Felipe can resolve the Catalan crisis, maintain his father’s links abroad and bring prosperity to the nation.
Paul Preston CBE, Historian and King Juan Carlos’ biographer, is optimistic about Spain’s future.
“Felipe is as good an heir as Spain is likely to get. He is an intelligent man who has been well-educated and prepared. He faces some tough challenges and whether he can overcome them remains to be seen,” he says.
It seems that Felipe VI is willing to rectify his father’s mistakes. Earlier this week, he announced that members of the Royal family would no longer be able to work in the private sector. This decision, perhaps directed at his father who is the only known member of the Royal family to have amassed a personal fortune of 8.5 million euros, signifies a massive turning point in the Palace’s dealings. The King also explained that his sisters, Infanta Cristina and Elena would not undertake official duties. This does not come as a shock, as Cristina, Urdangarin’s wife, is thought to have been involved in the infamous Noos investigation.