Spain’s King Juan Carlos is to abdicate, paving the way for his son to take over, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told the country Monday in an announcement broadcast nationwide.
He did not say when the handover would happen because the government must now craft a law creating a legal mechanism for the abdication and for 46-year-old Crown Prince Felipe’s assumption of power.
Juan Carlos, 76, has been on the throne since 1975 and oversaw his country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy, but he has had repeated health problems in recent years.
His popularity also dipped following royal scandals, including an elephant-shooting trip he took in the middle of Spain’s financial crisis during which he broke his right hip and had to be flown from Botswana back to Spain for medical treatment aboard a private jet.
His image was also tarnished by the investigation of his son-in law, who is suspected of embezzling large amounts in public contracts.
Felipe would presumably take the title Felipe IV. He has a law degree from Madrid’s Autonomous University and obtained a masters in international relations from Georgetown University in the United States.
Felipe is married to Princess Letizia, a former television journalist, and they have two daughters.
Like his father, Felipe has traveled the globe trying to maintain Spain’s influence especially in former Latin American colonies, while seeking to promote the nation’s international business interests.
King Juan Carlos came to power in 1975, two days after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco. He endeared himself to many Spaniards in large part by putting down an attempted military coup in 1981 when he was a young and largely untested head of state.