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Generational shift in European royal houses

Posted June. 04, 2014 06:57,   


European royal houses are going through a “generational shift.” Last year, both King Albert of Belgium and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands stepped down. And on Monday, Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, handed over the throne to his son. The abdication of aged monarchs in Europe cast a spotlight on whether Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain who turned 88 this year will also step down.

King Calros announced his abdication on TV this Monday saying Crown Prince Felipe is “ready to serve as king” and will “open a new chapter for tomorrow with energy of a younger generation.”

King Calros who ascended the throne after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in November 1975 has been praised for his role in the democratization of Spain during his 39-year reign. As a king who has been so much loved by the Spanish people, Carlos was also selected as one of the greatest Spanish people.

Expectations of the Spanish people now fall on young and healthy Crown Prince Felipe (46) who participated in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics as a yacht representative of Spain. King Carlos praised him as the “best-prepared crown prince in history of Spanish.” Now, the new king will have to take on the task of reversing the decline in support for the institution of monarchy. Currently, less than 50% of the Spanish people are in favor of monarchy.

Because age was part of the reasons for the recent abdication of the monarchs, people are paying attention to the decision of the British Queen. In January last year, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands handed over to Crown Prince Willem-Alexander at the age of 75. In the Netherlands, three monarchs including Beatrix made their own decision to step down. Last July, King Albert II of Belgium turned over the throne to his son Philippe as people pointed out it was difficult for him to perform his duty as king at the age of 79.

The issue of Queen Elizabeth II’s abdication has been raised continuously because she is older than the already-abdicated monarchs and her reign is already 62 years. Some say that it would be difficult for a living monarch to step down for oneself, considering the tradition and culture of British royal family. Historically, British successors came to throne only after the death of their predecessors.

Historian Kate Williams said that “the queen believes her responsibility as queen was given by God, thus only God can take it back from her” and that “it would be difficult in Britain a living monarch hands the throne over to a young successor.”

Because Queen Elizabeth II who is almost 90 is still energetically working as queen, it is expected she may exceed the longest reign record (64 years) set by Queen Victoria (1819∼1901).