King Felipe VI begins his reign in Spain

King Felipe VI takes the throne in Spain 03:25

A major American ally is in shock, and going through a difficult transition Thursday morning. Spain -- the reigning world soccer champions -- have been knocked out of the World Cup and given a new monarch all in less than 24 hours.

As coronations go, the one played out in Madrid on Thursday was a deliberate bargain basement job, says CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips; befitting a country that's been stuck with a recession and a monarchy with popularity ratings in the basement.

The new Spanish monarch's title was made official and King Felipe VI marked the occasion with a simple open-top Rolls-Royce ride through some of Madrid's most famous streets.

There were no foreign royals or dignitaries there to witness it.

In keeping with modern European royal tradition, however, Felipe does have a glamorous, ex-TV star "commoner" wife, and two magazine cover-ready children.

But there's a lot riding on Felipe's 46-year-old shoulders. The future of Spain's monarchy -- which many feel saved democracy in the country but which, of late, has been mired in scandal -- and the future shape of the country itself, may depend on him.

"He's been billed as the potential savior of the Spanish monarchy," European royal watcher Roya Nikkhah told CBS News, and she said it does indeed need saving.

"I think the Spanish monarchy is in trouble and has been for a couple of years," said Nikkah. "I think it's been almost irreparably damaged -- but not quite -- by Juan Carlos' very unpopular behavior in the last few years."

Juan Carlos, Felipe's father, had an up-and-down reign over four decades. As a young man, he was chosen as successor by Spain's hard-man dictator, Franciso Franco, but he may have set Franco's body spinning in its grave by going on to guide the country to democracy.

But more recently, Juan Carlos' high-living lifestyle increasingly seemed out of sync in a country with a quarter of its workforce unemployed, and protesters have taken to the streets complaining about financial scandals that have tainted other minor royals.

So, Juan Carlos did the honorable thing and quit, opening the way for his more popular son.

Felipe is deemed a clean sheet, so to speak. He's a pretty popular guy, and seems fairly down to earth -- as much as any royal can be, anyway.

Meanwhile, a monarch abdicating and a prince who's waited decades to succeed him raises inevitable questions about other royal families -- like the one to the north, in Britain.

Prince Charles, who's been waiting a lot longer than Felipe did, shouldn't get his hopes up.

In the U.K., Queen Elizabeth II is the popular one, along with her grandchildren. If anyone, it's Prince Charles whose popularity is suspect.