Spain Salutes An Heir Apparent as Prince Felipe, 18, Swears to Defend Crown and Constitution

updated 02/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Windsors and Grimaldis aren't the only royal families making news. On Jan. 30 Spain celebrated the coming-of-age of its crown prince, 18-year-old Felipe, the first heir to the Spanish throne to swear to uphold the nation's constitution. It was a proud day for his father, Juan Carlos, 48, who reestablished the Spanish monarchy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975; the king has been a fierce crusader for democracy in Spain ever since.

Felipe may never be as skilled an athlete as his role model, Dad (Juan Carlos was on the Spanish sailing team at the 1972 Olympic Games). Still he sails, skis and flies. He is multilingual (Spanish, English, Greek, German and French), perfecting his French during a year of study in Canada.

A central figure in the royal house is Greek-born Queen Sofia, now 47, who runs a low-key establishment. Her daughters, introverted Elena, 22, and vivacious Cristina, 20, are coeds in Madrid, driving themselves to and from their college classes. Their baby brother (he's now 6'3" and still growing) is currently a cadet at the Zaragoza Military Academy and will also attend the naval and air force academies. As Juan Carlos puts it, "In my family, to be a king is a profession." Felipe, of course, is starting on the ground floor.

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