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parliamentary monarchy

Monarchy of Spain

The Spanish monarchy (Monarquía española) is the parliamentary monarchy of Spain. The King or Queen regent of Spain (Rey de España or Reina de España) is the Head of State and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Spanish Armed Forces. The king also arbitrates and moderates the regular functioning of the state institutions. The Monarch's power is partly symbolic, because most royal acts must be countersigned by either the Prime Minister of Spain or other minister and in the case of appointing the prime minister the President of the Congress of Deputies to be valid. However, the monarchy played an important role in Spain's transition from Francoism to multi-party parliamentary democracy in the 1970s, and was crucial in suppressing the 23-F attempted coup d'etat.

The current King is Juan Carlos I, who is styled as "His Majesty". The monarchy is established in Title II, articles 56 to 65 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 (in which it is referred to as the Crown of Spain, corona de España). The constitutional title of the monarch is simply "King of Spain". A much longer titulary which contains a list of over 20 kingdoms etc, is not in state use, nor is it used in Spanish diplomacy, but is officially recognized in Article 57 of the Spanish Constitution.

The official residence of the Spanish monarch is the Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid). However, the royal family actually resides at the Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid.

The heir apparent to the Spanish monarchy receives the titles Prince of Asturias, Prince of Girona, Prince of Viana, Duke of Montblanc, Count of Cervera and Lord of Balaguer. Each of these titles are associated historically with those of the heirs in the various Christian kingdoms that existed on the Iberian peninsula prior to the unification of Spain in the 16th century: Asturias for the Kingdom of Castile; Girona, Balaguer and Montblanc for the Kingdom of Aragon, and Viana for Kingdom of Navarre. The current heir apparent of Spain is Prince Felipe.

Royal Household of the King

The structure of H.M. The King’s Household comprises the Head of the Household, the General Secretariat and the Military Chamber.

  • The Head of the Household manages and inspects all of the latter’s services.
  • The Secretary General is the Deputy Head of H.M. The King’s Household and he is responsible for the co-ordination of all its services. He also replaces the Head of the Household in the case of absence or illness.
  • The Military Chamber Commander represents, at His Majesty The King’s immediate service, the Military Establishment within His Majesty’s Household.

These three high-ranking officials constitute the highest management echelon of the Household.

The Head of H.M. The King’s Household

The main responsibility pertaining to the Head of H.M. The King’s Household is to ensure the best operation of the services thereof and the fulfilment of the tasks entrusted thereto.

In the field of economic, financial, budgetary and accounting management, a Controller, with managerial rank, is assigned to the Head of H.M. The King’s Household.

The General Secretariat

Pursuant to the Standing Orders handed down, on His Majesty’s behalf, by the Head of the Household, by virtue of the mechanism established in Article 14 of Royal Decree 434/1988, the General Secretariat is currently divided into the following Units , whose Heads form the Household’s management team:

  • Planning & Co-ordination Cabinet. This is the support unit for both the Head of the Household and the Secretary General, with assistance and immediate collaboration tasks in the fulfilment of the duties assigned to them by virtue of Royal Decree 434/1988. The Bureau and Activities and Programmes form part of this Cabinet.
  • The Office of H.M. The Queen’s Secretary. In collaboration with the other Units of the Household, the Office of H.M. The Queen’s Secretary carries out the study, preparation and implementation of all matters related to H.M. The Queen’s activities, as well as those of Their Royal Highnesses The Infantas.
  • The Office of H.R.H. The Prince of Asturias’ Secretary. In collaboration with the other Units of the Household, the Office of H.R.H. The Prince of the Asturias’ Secretary carries out the study, preparation and implementation of all matters related to the activities of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and The Princess of the Asturias.
  • Security Service. It is responsible for the Royal Family’s immediate security. It has a Commander and is composed of members of the State Security Forces, assigned by the Ministry of the Interior.
  • Relations with the Media. It maintains contact with professionals from the media, informing them of the official activities of the Royal Family, as well as their contents and organisation.
  • Protocol. It prepares and manages all aspects pertaining to protocol of the Royal Family’s different activities, both in Spain and abroad.
  • Administration, Infrastructure & Services. It manages the financial and budgetary side, as well as matters pertaining to the Household’s staff. It manages and organises telecommunication and information services. It co-ordinates general maintenance of the installations of La Zarzuela Palace. The Quartermaster’s Office and the Communications and Information Centre form part of this Unit.

The General Secretariat’s staff aggregates 137 civil servants, apart from those assigned to the Security Service by the Ministry of the Interior.

The Military Chamber

It prepares the military activities of the Royal Family’s members and maintains the relations of a military nature with the authorities of the Ministry of Defence.

The Military Chamber is formed by:

  • A Major General or Lieutenant-General or General on active duty. He is the Commander of the Military Chamber, the Royal Guard being at his orders for all purposes, by virtue of delegation of the Head of the Household. The Commander of the Military Chamber counts, for immediate support and collaboration, on a Cabinet , on an Advisor belonging to the Military Legal Corps and on a Military Auditor. The Cabinet is divided into four Sections covering Staff, Protocol, Operations and Logistics, respectively.
  • The Aides-de-Champ to His Majesty The King. The Aides-de-Champ, organised in successive 24-hour duty periods, assist His Majesty, in a permanent fashion and when carrying out his official duties, as well as H.M. The Queen and Their Royal Highnesses The Infantas Doña Elena and Doña Cristina. They also form part of the Retinue of Honour of foreign Heads of State on official visit to Spain. Four belong to the Army, two to the Navy, two to the Air Force and one to the Civil Guard.
  • The Aides-de-Champ to His Royal Highness The Prince of Asturias. The Aides-de-Champ assist His Royal Highness, in a permanent fashion and when carrying out his official activities, as well as Her Royal Highness The Princess of Asturias. One belongs to the Army, another one to the Navy and the last one to the Air Force.

Full Titulary

The full titulary of the kings of Spain, although not in active use, is as follows:

King of Spain, King of Castile, of León, of Aragón, of the Two Sicilies, of Jerusalem, of Navarre, of Granada, of Seville, of Toledo, of Valencia, of Galicia, of Sardinia, of Córdoba, of Corsica, of Murcia, of Jaén, of the Algarves, of Algeciras, of Gibraltar, of the Canary Islands, of the East and West Indies, of the Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea; Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, of Brabant, of Milan, of Athens and Neopatria; Count of Habsburg, of Flanders, of Tyrol, of Roussillon, and of Barcelona; Lord of Vizcaya and of Molina; Captain-General and Supreme Head of the Royal Armed Forces; Sovereign Grand-Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece and of the orders awarded by the Spanish state.

These titles are not officially designated in the 1978 constitution, but the constitution notes that the title of the King is King of Spain and further grants the right to use "the others pertaining to the Crown" (los demás que correspondan a la Corona). The list provided above is of the titles used by Alfonso XIII, which, by this provision of the constitution, the King is entitled to use.

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