News of the King's abdication came as a surprise, but Prince Felipe's journey to the throne was a long time coming. In September 1980, when the heir to the throne was just 12 years old, the Prince of Asturias Foundation (PAF) was established. In 2009 the Príncep de Girona Foundation (PGF) joined the list. Although his network is still nowhere near as extensive as his father's - Honorary President of dozens of entities - these foundations have cemented a core group of business people around the figure of the Prince of Asturias - people who regularly rendezvous with the heir to the throne, upon payment of their fees.

The three most important bankers in the country are patrons of both foundations: Francisco González (BBVA), Emilio Botín (Banco Santander) and Isidre Fainé (Caixabank), although the latter is represented in the PGF by his son Javier. Other double patrons include Isak Andic (Mango), Isidoro Álvarez (El Corte Inglés), Antonio Brufau (Repsol), José Manuel Entrecanales (Acciona), César Alierta (Telefónica), Borja Prado (Endesa) and Juan Miguel Villar Mir (OHL), whose affection for royalty has passed from father to son. Juan Abelló, one of the richest people in Spain, is patron of the PAF, but has ceded his post in Girona to his son Claudio.

All of these men have secured their seats thanks to the donations they pay to both foundations in the form of fees, whose sum is not made public. In 2012 - the last year accounts were published - the Prince of Asturias Foundation received an income amounting to €5.7 million. 63% of this, over €3.5m, came from such private donations. 18% was made up of state subsidies (from Asturian municipalities, the Autonomous Community and the government) with the rest, some 19%, being income from properties.

Alongside the businessmen already mentioned, others who pay their fees in Asturias are Alicia Koplowitz and her niece, Esther Alcocer; as well as Florentino Pérez (ACS, Real Madrid) and Ignacio Sánchez Galán (Iberdrola). Francisco Álvarez-Cascos is an honorary member. In Girona, José Manuel Lara (Planeta), Carlos de Godó (son of the Count and the group's managing director), Salvador Alemany (Abertis), Javier Monzón (Indra) and Manuel Marin, former president of the National Congress who now represents Iberdrola, also join the list of patrons.

Just a few months ago, in February, Felipe was the guest of honor at one of the gatherings of the Foro Puente Aéreo (Air Bridge Forum in English), a kind of 'member's only' club that meets behind closed doors, made up of Madrid and Barcelona's most influential businesspeople. Further, since 2001 he has exercised as Honorary President of the Real Instituto Elcano (Elcano Royal Institute in English). All of these contacts form a solid base, established over years, which will be nourished with the inheritance that comes with the throne.