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Spain's new King Felipe VI swears his oath

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    Spain's King Juan Carlos, right, hugs his son Spain's newly crowned King Felipe VI after handing over his military chief sash to him during a ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, June 19, 2014. King Felipe VI has taken part in the first official act of his reign, receiving the red sash of Captain General of the Armed Forces from his father Juan Carlos. (AP Photo/Zipi, Pool)

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    Spain’s newly crowned King Felipe VI waves upon his arrival at the Parliament in Madrid, Spain.

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    Spain’s King Juan Carlos, left, signs an abdication law in the presence of Queen Sofia, Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia during a ceremony at the Royal Palace Wednesday. Juan Carlos formally ratified the law, signing a legislation setting out the legal framework for the handover so his 46-year-old son can be proclaimed King Felipe VI.

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    Queen Sofia, left, Spain’s King Juan Carlos, 2nd left, Spain's Crown Prince Felipe, 3rd left and Princess Letizia stand during a ceremony where King Juan Carlos signed an abdication law at the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday June 18, 2014. Spain’s Juan Carlos formally ratified the law, signing a legislation setting out the legal framework for the handover so his 46-year-old son can be proclaimed King Felipe VI at a ceremony in Parliament on Thursday. The 76-year-old monarch says he wants to step aside after a four-decade reign so that younger royal blood can rally a country beset by economic problems, including an unemployment rate of 25 percent. (AP Photo/Alberto Martin, Pool)

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    Spain's King Juan Carlos, center, stands before handing over his military chief sash to Spain's newly crowned King Felipe VI, left, during a ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, June 19, 2014. King Felipe VI has taken part in the first official act of his reign, receiving the red sash of Captain General of the Armed Forces from his father Juan Carlos. (AP Photo/Zipi, Pool)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Spain’s newly crowned King Felipe VI waves upon his arrival at the Parliament in Madrid, Spain.

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MADRID  — Spain’s new King Felipe VI was proclaimed monarch at a formal ceremony in the country’s Parliament today, a deliberately low-key occasion for austere times and tarnished royal reputations.

Felipe swore an oath of allegiance to democratic principles in front of lawmakers and senators, who shouted “Viva el Rey!” (Long live the king!).

Although the 18th-century Spanish crown and 17th-century scepter were displayed next to the new monarch, authorities shunned an opulent coronation ceremony. The option for a relatively low-key proclamation was chosen out of sensitivity to the financial hardship endured by many Spaniards after a double-dip recession.

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Spain’s King Juan Carlos, left, signs an abdication law in the presence of Queen Sofia, Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia during a ceremony at the Royal Palace Wednesday. Juan Carlos formally ratified the law, signing a legislation setting out the legal framework for the handover so his 46-year-old son can be proclaimed King Felipe VI.

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Even so, the cheering crowds and the pageantry provided a welcome distraction as Spaniards were reeling from their national team’s shock defeat by Chile in the World Cup in Brazil, which ended their hope of winning a second consecutive title.

Earlier, in his first official act since ascending to the throne after midnight, Felipe received the red sash of Captain General of the Armed Forces from his father Juan Carlos, who signed his abdication decree in favor of Felipe on Wednesday.

“We have a great country. We should all be proud of being Spaniards,” Felipe said at his swearing-in ceremony.

Felipe acknowledged a need to restore the monarchy’s image after recent royal scandals.

The monarchy was rocked when Juan Carlos went on a luxurious elephant-hunting safari in Botswana as Spaniards endured financial hardship, and his youngest daughter, Princess Cristina, was obliged to testify in a fraud and money-laundering case engulfing her husband, Olympic handball medalist turned businessman Inaki Urdangarin.

Felipe also sought to inspire a country where a quarter of the population is unemployed and many have emigrated in search of work.

He ended his speech by saying “thank you” in three Spanish regional languages — Catalan, Basque and Galician. Some people in those regions want to secede or achieve greater independence from Spain.

After a brief military parade, Felipe and his wife Queen Letizia drove through Madrid in an open-top vintage Rolls Royce with the king standing, before appearing in front of crowds on a balcony at the royal palace. The royal couple’s daughters, Princesses Leonor, 8, and Sofia, 7, accompanied them throughout.

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