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Spain's new King swears to serve nation

Spain's King Felipe VI, Spains Queen Letizia and Spanish Crown Princess of Asturias Leonor review troops at the Congress of Deputies./AFP

Spain's King Felipe VI, Spains Queen Letizia and Spanish Crown Princess of Asturias Leonor review troops at the Congress of Deputies./AFP

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's new King Felipe VI swore to serve the crisis-stricken nation as he launched his reign on Thursday, cheered on by crowds of revellers in a sea of red and yellow flags.

Thousands of Spaniards put aside their World Cup misery to line the sun-splashed streets, yelling "Long live the king!" as the newly-proclaimed Felipe, 46, and his glamorous Queen Letizia, 41, waved from an open-topped, black Rolls Royce.

A tall, former Olympic yachtsman, Felipe faces the task of polishing the image of a monarchy tarnished by scandals and winning over a country wearied by recession and political corruption.

Swearing his oath in parliament in a dark blue military uniform, Felipe promised "a renewed monarchy for new times", after scandals that tainted the reign of his abdicated father, Juan Carlos.

Felipe pledged his "faith in the unity of Spain", where separatist tensions are high in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Applause and cries of "Long live the King!" filled the chamber as he finished his speech and turned to kiss Letizia, who wore a white knee-length dress and coat.

After the swearing-in the king stood and waved from the car, flanked by guards on horseback with silver helmets and breastplates winking in the sun, during a drive with his wife through central Madrid to the old Royal Palace where a crowd of thousands was waiting.

Felipe and Letizia -- a former television newsreader -- appeared on the balcony of the Royal Palace with their blonde, blue-eyed daughters eight-year-old Leonor, who is now heiress to the throne, and Sofia, seven, and waved to cheering crowds below.


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