Madrid - Prince Felipe became Spanish king Thursday in the wake of the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos, who had signed an abdication law hours earlier.
The 46-year-old crown prince became King Felipe at midnight (2200 GMT) and is to be ceremonially inaugurated Thursday in the Spanish Parliament.
Juan Carlos' nearly 39-year reign ended Wednesday with his signing of an abdication law, which the Senate had passed on Tuesday. He appeared to choke back tears during the brief signing ceremony in which rose with the help of a cane to cede his seat to Felipe.
The 76-year-old monarch made a surprise June 2 announcement that he would step aside for a "younger generation." The move required parliamentary approval because no provision for abdication had existed under Spanish law.
Felipe's daughter, Leonor, 8, is the new crown princess.