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King Juan Carlos of Spain is retiring from public life

King Juan Carlos of Spain is retiring from public life. The former monarch will stop carrying out engagements from June 2nd 2019, the fifth anniversary of the announcement of his abdication.

Juan Carlos, who ruled Spain from 1975 until 2014, confirmed he would be giving up his public role in an open letter to his son, Felipe VI. The royal household in Spain is yet to make any formal comment on the decision.

The letter, which opened ‘’Majesty, my dear Felipe’’, saw Juan Carlos explain that he now feels the time has come for him to step back from public life, saying that it is time for him to ‘’start a new page’’.

Juan Carlos added that he had been thinking about retiring since celebrating his 80th birthday in January 2018 and said that the ‘’unforgettable commemoration of the 40th anniversary of our Constitution in the Cortes’’ had helped him make his mind up that the time had come to step back.

He described the events marking that anniversary as ‘’filled with emotion’’ for him and said that they had brought back ‘’memories of so many people who helped make the Transition possible’’ as well as reaffirming his ‘’eternal gratitude to the Spanish people’’ who he described as the main protagonists of the momentous events which saw the country move from dictatorship to democracy.

The letter finishes by saying the decision has been taken with ‘’the great love and pride of a father’’ and promises Felipe his ongoing loyalty. The last line reads ‘’a huge hug from your  father’’.

Juan Carlos has carried out a limited range of engagements since abdicating the throne although his profile has been higher over the past year as he took part in several events for the anniversary of the Spanish constitution. It is understood that Juan Carlos’ wife, Sofia, will continue her public engagements.

Juan Carlos became King of Spain on the death of Franco in November 1975 and has been widely praised for his work in bringing democracy to Spain. He was among the most popular monarchs in Europe for much of his 39 year rule but the final part of his reign saw dissatisfaction with the Royal Family surge following the corruption case involving his son in law, Inaki Urdangarin, and criticism of Juan Carlos himself for taking a hunting holiday at the height of Spain’s economic crisis.

Juan Carlos announced his abdication on June 2nd 2014 and stepped aside in favour of Felipe VI on June 19th that year.


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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.