Catalonia's new president has failed to swear an oath of loyalty to the king of Spain, signalling a new mood of confrontation with Madrid.

Carles Puigdemont instead made what Spanish unionists called an "illegal" vow to the "people of Catalonia".

His defiance, although largely symbolic, immediately led to claims of illegitimacy as he pursues what Spain regards as an unconstitutional road map to independence.HeraldScotland:

Mr Puigdemont, above, was elected by the Catalan parliament on Sunday after months of post-election wrangling.

He now leads a relatively united group of "independentistes" who enjoy a majority of members the Catalan parliament if not, polls suggest, of the people.

In contrast, Spain's main unionist parties on Wednesday continues frantic coalition manoeuvres after inconclusive elections shortly before Christmas.

Barcelona papers on Wednesday all led on the new wording. "Loyal to the Catalan people," splashed El Periódico.

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Madrid papers, meanwhile, took a different view.

Mr Puigdemont's oath "could not have been more eloquent," said staunchly unionist daily La Razon, "he neither mentioned the king nor the constitution." Government lawyers, it said, were studying his remarks to see if can challenge their legality.

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Unionist media portrays Mr Puigdemont as a more radical supporter of independence than his predecessor, Artur Mas, who was a late and technocratic convert the cause.

Much has been made of Mr Puigdemont's reference "invaders" of his homeland. The intellectual former journalist, however, is no xenophobe, speaking five languages, including that of his Romanian-born migrant wife.

He has been able to capture support of a much wider section of the independence movement than his predecessor, including, crucially, the leftist CUP faction.

His election, on Sunday, came after CUP, which refused to support Mr Mas, agreed to back him.

But it augured more legalistic and constitutional opposition to the independence process in Catalonia from authorities in Madrid.

The King of Spain, Felipe VI, earlier this week failed to receive the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, when she tried to inform the monarch of his appointment.

Mr Mas, pictured congratuling Puigdemont below, and other Catalan leaders remain under threat of legal action following a symbolic mock referendum on independence in 2014.

HeraldScotland: epa05094545 Catalonian acting President Artur Mas (L) shakes hands with Gerona's Mayor Carles Puigdemont (2-R) after a press conference held at Palau de la Generalitat, in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, 09 January 2016. Mas announced to resign as Cataloni

Spain's current constitution, backed across the state and in Catalonia after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in the 1970s, does not allow for secession.

Scottish MSPs have to make an oath of loyalty to "Her Majesty and heirs and successors", regardless of their views on the monarchy.

Scottish Socialist Rosie Kane in 2003 swore loyalty to the Queen while raising her hand on which she had written "My Oath is to the people."

HeraldScotland: Rosie Kane and the other SSP candidates owe a lot to Tommy Sheridan, below

Other MSPs have demonstratively crossed their fingers while they made their oaths.

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