Spain's Prince Felipe became King Felipe VI at midnight as the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos, became official. The occasion was fairly low-key, with no foreign heads of state present and no huge state banquet, which the palace says was "in keeping with the criteria of austerity that the times recommend," the AP reports. The 46-year-old king was later proclaimed head of state in a parliamentary ceremony where he promised to be a monarch "who is ready listen and understand, warn and advise as well as to defend the public interest at all times," the BBC reports.
The new king spoke of the need to "look ahead to the Spain we are building together as I begin this reign," reports CNN, which notes that while the monarchy remains popular in Spain, the royal family has been accused of corruption and excess during the country's economic crisis—and Juan Carlos' image suffered after he went on a luxurious elephant-hunting trip in the middle of the recession. Felipe and his wife, who is now Queen Letizia, will be driven through the streets of Madrid before appearing at the palace but they may find that many Spaniards aren't in the mood for cheering: The country's soccer team, which won the World Cup in 2010, crashed out of the tournament last night with a 2-0 loss to Chile. (Read more Spain stories.)