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Spain’s King Juan Carlos abdicates to revive monarchy

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Spain’s King Juan Carlos abdicates to revive monarchy
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Spain’s King Juan Carlos said on Monday he would abdicate in favour of his son Prince Felipe, aiming to revive the scandal-hit monarchy at a time of economic hardship and growing discontent with the wider political elite.

“A new generation is quite rightly demanding to take the lead role,” Juan Carlos, 76, said on television, hours after a surprise announcement from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that the monarch would step down after almost 40 years on the throne.

The once popular Juan Carlos, who helped smooth Spain’s transition to democracy in the 1970s after the Francisco Franco dictatorship, seemed increasingly out of touch in recent years.

He took a secret luxury elephant-hunting trip to Botswana in 2012, a time when one in four Spanish workers was jobless and the government teetered on the brink of default.

A corruption scandal in the family and his visible infirmity after repeated surgery in recent years have also eroded public support. Polls show greater support for the low-key Felipe, 46, who has not been tarnished by the corruption allegations.

The king’s younger daughter, Princess Cristina, and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, are under investigation and a judge is expected to decide soon whether to put Urdangarin on trial on charges of embezzling 6 million euros in public funds through his charity. He and Cristina deny wrongdoing.

The king, who walks with a cane after multiple hip operations and struggled to speak clearly during an important speech earlier this year, is stepping down for personal reasons, Rajoy said.

But a source at the royal palace told Reuters the abdication was for political reasons. The source said the king decided in January to step down, but delayed the announcement until after the European Union election on May 25.

Political analysts said the ruling conservative People’s Party (PP) was eager to put the more popular Felipe on the throne to try to combat increasingly anti-monarchist sentiment, after small leftist and anti-establishment parties did surprisingly well in the election.

The country is just pulling out of a long recession that dented faith in politicians, the royal family and other institutions. The PP and the Socialists, which have dominated politics since the return to democracy, are committed to the monarchy, but they polled less than 50 percent between them in the recent election.

Smaller leftist parties Podemos, United Left and Equo green party, which together took 20 percent in the European vote, all called on Monday for a referendum on the monarchy.

“People are calling for political regeneration, a change in the institutional functioning of the state after around 40 years of democracy, and they’ve started with the royals,” said Jordi Rodriguez Virgili, professor of political communication at Navarra University.

Spain does not have a precise law regulating abdication and succession. Rajoy’s cabinet was scheduled to have an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to set out the steps for Prince Felipe to take over as Felipe VI. The transition will likely be accomplished by passing a law through parliament, where the PP has an absolute majority.

“We’ve been hearing continuously over the last few months on the necessity for deep change. The feeling is that the European elections have been a turning point and I believe the decision has been made in this context,” said Rafael Rubio, constitutional expert at Madrid’s Complutense University.

A PRINCE FOR NEW TIMES

There has been media speculation over an abdication since last year.

Sixty-two percent of Spaniards were in favour of the king stepping down, according to a January poll by Sigma Dos. That compared with 45 percent a year earlier. Only 41 percent of those polled had a good or very good opinion of the king. Felipe has a positive rating of 66 percent and most Spaniards believe the monarchy could recover its prestige if he took the throne, according to the poll.

“Felipe has a lot more energy to do the job,” said Alfonso Romero, 36, a student.

Political analysts speculated Felipe may try to seek dialogue between Rajoy and Catalan President Artur Mas, who is leading a movement to break away from Spain. But Mas said on Monday that Felipe’s taking the throne would not dissuade him from trying to hold a referendum on independence in November.

The prince, who has had a growing role in ceremonial events in the past year, is seen as more practical and in tune with current affairs than Juan Carlos, a jovial skier and sailor once beloved for his common touch and seen as much more accessible than the older generations of British royals.

Juan Carlos will be the second European monarch to abdicate in just over a year. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands stepped down in April 2013 to make way for her son Willem-Alexander.

Felipe married divorced journalist Leticia Ortiz in 2004 and they have two daughters. The royal family began a Twitter feed (@CasaReal) on their tenth wedding anniversary, May 21, with tweets on both Juan Carlos and Felipe’s weekend visit to El Salvador for the swearing in of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren.

The prince was in Spain on Monday but had no official events planned until Tuesday when he is scheduled to appear with the king at the El Escorial monastery and former royal palace.

As king, Felipe will be Spain’s head of state, representing the country at summits, official visits and in meetings with business leaders.

Even if he can win Spaniards over, he will continue to face a sense that the country does not need a king.

“I’m not a monarchist and don’t have a high opinion of them,” said Maria Luisa Villaseca, a retired public employee visiting the medieval city of Toledo. “I think they should call a referendum and ask citizens what they want.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Condolences from Thailand to UK on Prince Philip’s death

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Condolences from Thailand to UK on Prince Philip’s death | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: The King and Queen of Thailand greet the King and Queen of England

The leaders of Thailand have sent messages of condolences to their British counterparts following the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Friday. His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand has sent a message of condolence to Prince Philip’s widow, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, released by the Thai Royal Household Bureau, stating that the King and Queen are deeply saddened by Prince Philip’s death.

“We all in Thailand join the people of Great Britain in mourning this great loss, a sense of loss being shared by peoples around the world, whose lives have been touched and enriched by His Royal Highness’ enduring legacies in their diversity.

We still recall, with much pride and warmth, the two historic state visits made by Your Majesty in 1972 and 1996, with His Royal Highness at your side, as guests of my beloved father, His late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Just as important to the people of Thailand was how His Royal Highness wished, during his later visits on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund, to share with them his love of nature and passion for the environment, thus inspiring a number of essential projects of conservation.

May I, on behalf of the people of Thailand, express to Your Majesty, the Royal Family and the British people our heartfelt sympathy and condolences for this truly grievous loss.”

Meanwhile, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha released a statement on behalf of the people of Thailand, saying their thoughts and prayers were with the people of Britain. PM Prayut sent a message to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson praising Prince Philip’s “exceptional leadership”.

“On behalf of the Royal Thai Government and the people of Thailand, I wish to extend to Your Right Honourable and the British people our deepest condolences and sympathy for this irreparable loss. We join the British people in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with the British people in this time of sadness”

Prince Philip, who was married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years, died Friday at the age of 99 after recently being released from King Edward VII Hospital recovering from a February surgery for a heart condition. He was the longest-serving consort in British history. The Duke of Edinburgh had visited Thailand twice, escorting the Queen for state visits with King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1972 and 1996.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World & Thai Examiner

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | Thaiger

Prince Philip, the husband and consort to Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 99. The Duke of Edinburgh was the longest-serving consort in the history of the United Kingdom, retiring in 2017 after more than 20,000 public engagements. Born on the Greek island of Corfu, Philip had 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren with the Queen. Buckingham Palace released a statement mourning the loss.

Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921 on the island of Corfu, Greece. He married Princess Elizabeth on November 20, 1947.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

 

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Prince Philip dies at the age of 99 – Buckingham Palace

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Prince Philip dies at the age of 99 – Buckingham Palace | Thaiger

The husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, has died at the age of 99. Buckingham Palace announced his death in the last hour.

Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947, 5 years before she became Queen. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

The couple had 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

SOURCE: BBC

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