King Juan Carlos rejected any suggestion of possible abdication during an interview on Spanish Television tonight marking his 75th birthday tomorrow.
The King said, “I am doing well and wish to continue” with the duties of Head of State.
Asked about his legacy, His Majesty said,” I don’t like to talk about myself.” But expressed pride in having helped unite “all Spaniards” and accomplished his duty to restore Democracy and the Crown.
Of course, Spain remains divided, especially with regions like Catalonia discussing whether to seek independence. The King reiterated his distaste for the politics of “intransigence” and division.
He called the current generation one “of liberty,” but said Spain still had to work on becoming a more equal and fair society. He wants the country to be united behind “one future and one idea.”
“To me it hurts me a lot,” the King said about people having to leave Spain to find work amid a tough recession.
Don Juan Carlos has been King since 1975. “More that satisfied I feel fortunate,” he said.
The interview was never expected to generate controversy of bring about tough questions. Still, commentators quickly said it could have been less formal, allowing for the King’s jovial personality to come through.
Spain’s King Juan Carlos finished a four-day state visit to India today, where the two countries finalized several bilateral agreements and pledged increased economic cooperation.
The King met with the Indian leadership, along with local and international business leaders. Bilateral commerce between both countries was worth around $5 billion last year, the Royal Household said.
“Today our societies can only progress with a climate of openness, stability and security,” the King said during one of his stops. The King has made global trade a priority as a means of improving Spain’s ailing economy.
The King secured Indian support for Spain gaining a seat in the United Nations Security Council. Other agreements include investment in a Catalonian firm and more joint defense activities.
Media outlets reported that King Juan Carlos said the situation inside Spain makes him want to cry, but he also encouraged people not to be pessimistic about the country’s future.
King Juan Carlos met with Catalonian President Artur Mas during the Monarch’s trip to Barcelona today.
It was a much anticipated — and in some quarters dreaded — meeting between both men. It comes amid Mas calling for early elections in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia and fanning pro-independence flames.
The King traveled to the Catalonian capital to hand out the Count of Barcelona award to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Count of Barcelona is one of King Juan Carlos’ titles.
His Majesty, who had already released an open letter calling for unity among all Spaniards, expressed optimism about the country’s economic future.
He called the economic and political situation “grave” but said Catalonians and all Spaniards “are capable of overcoming these circumstances.” He also spoke in catalán for good measure.
Earlier this week the King was in New York attending the annual meeting of former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative, where he met with other heads of state and world leaders.
Meanwhile, members of the Royal Family have resumed a busy agenda. Today, for example, Queen Sofia attended a gathering of backers of the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia visited New York, New Jersey and Boston last week to call for stronger ties between the U.S. and Europe, and highlight the importance of Spain in American history and its future.
The week ended on a high note with an appearance with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the end of the United States – Spain Council’s forum in Jersey City.
Their Royal Highneses met with Hispanic luminaries, Spanish business officials and other leaders, including the heads of media giants Telemundo and Univision, to boost Spain’s image in the U.S. and relations between both countries, which took a hit during the debate over the war in Iraq.
Post-Franco Spain has sought to boost its influence in the world, with a focus on Latin America. It appears the Royal Family and other leaders hope to make further inroads in the U.S. through the growing influence of Hispanics.
During a speech at Harvard University in Boston titled “Spain: An American Nation” as in other events throughout the week, Prince Felipe highlighted the common histories between Spain and the U.S., and the growth of Hispanic economic, linguistic and cultural influence.
“I see Spain not only as a European, Mediterranean or American country, but one with universal reach,” he said. “The Spanish Monarchy,” he added, “remains profoundly committed to the cause of Democracy in Latin America.”
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia arrived in the U.S. yesterday and visited IESE Business School’s campus in New York today.
Like his father, Prince Felipe spoke about Spain’s ongoing economic troubles. He touted recent reforms and called for “more Europe” to solve the continental crisis. He said the monetary union was “weak” and suggested the need for a stronger pact.
Their Royal Highnesses participated in a business colloquium and met with students on campus. IESE is an outpost of the University of Navarra and the first European business school to set up a permanent facility in New York.
The Prince and Princess of Asturias are also scheduled to visit Harvard University this week.
Just yesterday, Prince Felipe was in Morocco. He met with Prince Moulay Rachid and business leaders from both countries.
Meanwhile, King Juan Carlos visited Civil Guard facilities near Gibraltar, as scheduled.
Some critics in that British outpost are calling to Monarch’s visit as a hostile act. Fishermen wanting access to disputed waters are calling on the King to intervene on their behalf. Spanish forces have already escorted them on fishing trips.
Queen Sofia is holding down the fort in Madrid. She presided over a meeting of the Royal Patronage for Disabilities and assisted an event organized by the Indian Embassy. She went with her sister Princess Irene.
Today King Juan Carlos presided over the swearing-in of new Bank of Spain governor Luis María Linde de Castro. The ceremony at Zarzuela Palace comes amid a planned European capital injection into the troubled Spanish banking system.
Luis María Linde de Castro swore allegiance to the King while touching a copy of the Constitution and the Bible. A crucifix was also present according to custom.
The Bible, property of Charles IV, was open to the Book of Numbers. The Constitution was open to the section on the economy.
Media reports noted the King’s comments: “What times!”
King Juan Carlos is once again sounding off on the troubles in Europe and the extremely delicate Spanish economy.
In a visit to Chile yesterday, His Majesty said the problems in Europe are not economic but political. He talked about the robust nature of the continent’s finances compared to other places.
“Europe requires austerity and discipline,” he said. “But austerity alone will not save Europe.”
The King talked about the “unprecedented” reforms that the Spanish government has implemented in recent months. He said his country was starting to regain its competitiveness.
Don Juan Carlos met with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. Like in Brazil, he took a swipe at Argentina by highlighting Chile’s commitment to the rule of law. Argentina recently expropriated a local branch of Spanish oil giant Repsol.
His Majesty today met with the leaders of Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica. Media outlets are saying the King is back as Spain’s top champion.
“I am not at all tired,” he said, according to Spanish media.
Other members of the Royal Family, including Price Felipe and Princess Letizia, have been “holding down the fort” taking care of public events in Spain while the King is away.