King Juan Carlos of Spain to abdicate

Jun 2, 2014

King Juan Carlos, who guided country from dictatorship to democracy, will be replaced by Prince Filipe

Gabriel Solera/Getty Images

King Juan Carlos of Spain, the man credited with steering his country towards democracy after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, is to abdicate.

The announcement was made by Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

"His Majesty King Juan Carlos has just informed me of his desire to renounce the throne and begin the process of succession," Mr Rajoy said. "I'm convinced this is the best moment for change."

The 76-year-old king will be replaced by his son, Felipe.

According to the BBC, Juan Carlos was long seen as "one of the world's most popular monarchs".

Juan Carlos became king on November 22, 1975, two days after the death of Franco, who had named him as his successor.

Over the subsequent months, the king quickly dismantled the institutions of Francoism – a move which made him a constitutional monarch under a newly democratic system. In 1981, Juan Carlos stood firm against a military coup, which, according to The Times, "won him international respect – and the adoration of his people".

Rajoy said that Juan Carlos had been a "tireless defender of our interests".

The king's popularity "dipped" in recent years, The Guardian says, after his reputation was diminished by a spate of scandals. In 2012, during the height of the financial crisis, Juan Carlos took a lavish elephant-hunting trip to Botswana. And in February this year his youngest daughter, Princess Cristina, became the first member of the royal family to appear in court as a suspect in a criminal case. Her husband is currently under investigation for embezzlement.

A poll in January found that two thirds of Spanish people believed that abdication was the best option for the king. It also found that the same percentage had a "good" opinion of Prince Felipe.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

Why are Europeans enamoured with the medieval institution of Royalty?

Royalty is not "medieval": it was already an ancient institution before the Middle Ages (ca. 500-1500). Please don't use "medieval" as a generic term for something you don't like. It betrays your ignorance.

I would suggest that during the period you have mentioned 500 to 1500 many of the so-called 'Royalty' were in fact nothing more than tribal chiefs similar to those found in 'darkest' Africa. Please answer the question, why do Europeans feel the need to be ruled by a 'superior' type of being?. The medieval period was the hey-day of the 'royal' era. Today mainly in Europe,Thailand and Bhutan does royalty thrive. Europeans don't seem to be able to move forward in the modern world and cling to archaic rituals and systems and that may account for the continents decline.