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Spanish king Felipe VI has hit the half-century mark. And prime minister Mariano Rajoy has wanted to wish him many happy returns. He did so in an open letter shared on social media, in which he carried out an exercise in reverence towards the monarchy. He thanked him for his "firm defence of the law and the Spanish Constitution". The king, Rajoy says, "has known how to show everyone the importance of the crown to Spain".

The prime minister included a small reference to Catalonia, mentioning the anti-terrorism march headed by the king on 26th August last year, which caused some commotion. Also, he continues, the king has demonstrated this "repeatedly, with his firm defence of the law and the Spanish Constitution, which this year will celebrate its 40th anniversary". The Constitution, Rajoy says, "is the basis of our freedom and the cause of our prosperity, the principal strength of this better Spain".

In the missive, Rajoy summarises Felipe VI's life so far, starting with his birth in the 60s, in the middle of the Franco dictatorship. But Rajoy avoids talking of the dark times, instead describing a Spain "which was giving birth to a fervent middle class" and which "desired openness, freedom and prosperity and which needed urgently to incorporate itself into the developed democracies of Europe".

He also refers to the attempted coup d'état: "A cold night in February 1981, Felipe had the opportunity to learn how fragile democracy can be and how strong the democratic institutions are when duty and the law are fulfilled". He adds: "His father wanted him to stay awake that night in which national sovereignty was threatened". He also recalls other episodes, like when the king carried the flag for the Spanish team at the Barcelona '92 Olympics and his marriage to Leticia.

Finally, Rajoy discusses Felipe's proclamation as king in June 2014. "Something over three and a half years have passed since that day, and the king has won over the the Spaniards by his example, that weapon of weak appearance and powerful reality. With his daily work and effort, we, the Spanish people, have many reasons to be proud of our constitutional monarch".