King Felipe of Spain praised his scandal-hit father, King Juan Carlos I, for his "firmness and authority" in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the attempted coup in the Spanish parliament.

The Spanish coup d'état attempt, also known as Tejerazo and by the numeronym 23-F, was an attempted coup in the Spanish Parliament on February 23, 1981. The Congress of Deputies was voting to elect a President of the Government when 200 armed Civil Guard officers led by Lieutenant-Colonel Antonio Tejero burst in violently and held the parliamentarians and ministers hostage for 18 hours. Almost half an hour of the event was aired on Television.

Juan Carlos, who was proclaimed King six years before the coup, is widely credited for ensuring that the attempt failed. He denounced the coup in a televised address on the same day, calling for rule of law and the democratic government to continue. The hostage-takers surrendered the next morning without killing anyone, though shots were fired to create fear.

The coup attempt was linked to the Spanish transition to democracy, a period encompassing the regime change from the dictatorship of Francisco Franco to the consolidation of a parliamentary system, in the form of the monarchy under Juan Carlos I.

A ceremony was held at the same building this Tuesday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the failed coup, though only a handful of politicians were in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. King Felipe remembered his self-exiled father on the occasion, and noted that the former king had "assumed as Head of State his responsibility and his commitment to the Constitution" and "his firmness and authority were decisive for the defense and triumph of democracy," reports Royal Central.

Felipe's comments came as a bit of a surprise since many thought Juan Carlos should not even be mentioned at the event, owing to the corruption allegations surrounding him.

The former monarch himself went into a self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi last year to let his son "exercise his responsibilities." The 83-year-old, who abdicated the throne in favour of King Felipe in 2014, is facing three separate criminal probes in Spain.

King Juan Carlos I of Spain coup
Left: Lieutenant-Colonel Antonio Tejero de Molina took the cabinet and some 350 MPs hostage in February 1981, during an attempted coup. Right: Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez bows his head to King Juan Carlos after he was released by rebels who had held him and 350 members of Parliament hostage for 18 hours AFP