THE HANDOVER OF THE SPANISH THRONE

Spain’s new king and queen greet crowd from royal palace balcony

Felipe VI defies security advice by traveling in an open car from Congress ceremony

The new king and queen of Spain with their two daughters on the balcony of the Royal Palace.
The new king and queen of Spain with their two daughters on the balcony of the Royal Palace. Gorka Lejarcegi

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, together with the rest of the royal family, including Juan Carlos, waved to the crowds from the balcony of Madrid’s old Royal Palace after an open-car parade through the thronged streets of the capital on Thursday.

After the new monarch’s swearing-in and address to Congress, the coronation ceremony moved back outside where he watched a military parade that included the Royal Guard on horseback.

Felipe and his wife were then driven through central Madrid in an open car, defying advice from the Interior Ministry to travel in an enclosed vehicle for security reasons. The image was reminiscent of Juan Carlos’ own coronation ceremony nearly four decades ago, which also included an open-car parade.

The new king stood up inside the slow-moving Rolls-Royce and waved to the crowd throughout the procession while his wife Queen Letizia sat to his left. The motorcade first headed down to Neptuno square and turned left on Paseo del Prado towards Cibeles square, site of Madrid City Hall.

The police had orders to prevent the display of any republican flags by onlookers

Around 120,000 Spanish flags had been handed out to onlookers by a Valencian company, state broadcaster TVE reported. The red-and-yellow flags were also on prominent display on security barriers and nearby buildings.

The police had orders to prevent the display of any republican flags by onlookers. The controversial decision was backed by the Madrid regional High Court for security reasons.

The royal car moved up the city’s main Gran Vía at noon, coinciding with the chiming of the carillon on the Plus Ultra building. The 18-bell clock with five revolving figures, a popular tourist draw, had been reprogrammed to play the national anthem as the royals went by, although the music was drowned out by the noise at street level.

After reaching Plaza de España, the motorcade turned left towards the Palacio de Oriente, the former royal residence that is still used for formal ceremonies. Hundreds of people packed the square below the palace as 21 military salvos and renewed cries of “Viva España” greeted the Rolls-Royce on its way into the palace through the main door, the Puerta del Príncipe.

Afterwards the new monarchs hosted a reception for more than 2,000 guests, including Rafa Nadal and Pau Gasol

Inside the palace, Felipe VI rejoined his parents, Juan Carlos, who had been absent from the Congress ceremony, and Sofía, before coming out on to the central balcony to greet the crowd.

The six members of the royal family – King Felipe and Queen Letizia, the Princess of Asturias, the Infanta Sofía, Juan Carlos and Sofía – then waved to onlookers gathered in the Plaza de Oriente, who received them with shouts of “Viva los Reyes!” and “Felipe, Felipe!”.

Afterwards the new monarchs hosted a reception inside the palace for more than 2,000 guests, including politicians, labor union representatives, ambassadors and journalists, as well as leading figures from Spanish sport and culture, such as tennis player Rafael Nadal, basketball star Pau Gasol and filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar.