New Spanish king, queen to make debut visit to Vatican

Spain`s new King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia will visit Pope Francis at the Vatican on their first foreign trip as monarchs, the government said Friday a day after they took the throne.

Madrid: Spain`s new King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia will visit Pope Francis at the Vatican on their first foreign trip as monarchs, the government said Friday a day after they took the throne.

Felipe, 46, a tall former Olympic yachtsman, and the elegant 41-year-old Letizia were proclaimed king and queen Thursday in a relatively modest ceremony to which no foreign leaders or royals were invited.

Now the couple, who have two blonde-haired daughters -- seven-year-old Sofia and eight-year-old Leonor, who is heir to the throne -- are to travel around Spain and abroad, palace officials say.

"The king and queen have a very busy international agenda, the Vatican first," Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told public television TVE without giving dates.

After their visit to the Argentine pontiff, the monarchs will travel to Spain`s neighbouring countries Morocco, France and Portugal, the foreign minister said, without specifying dates.

Garcia-Margallo said Felipe would attend the United Nations general assembly in New York in September where he would play a "prominent role".

Felipe will set out Spain`s international policy and seek votes for the country`s candidature for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2015-16, he added. Spain is vying against New Zealand and Turkey for one of the two temporary Security Council seats.

While in New York, Felipe will have a first chance as king to meet President Barack Obama. The US leader sent a message Thursday congratulating the king on his investiture and saying he looked forward to working closely with him.

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