The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, has confirmed that Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias will now replace his father as monarch once the Spanish legislature pass an act for the King to renounce the throne and allow the succession to take place.
76-year-old King Juan Carlos will abdicate later this year. The announcement was not a surprise to many as his health has been known to be deteriorating and His Majesty has had a number of operations recently.
Juan Carlos took the crown in 1975 and helped the Spain leave dictatorship for democracy. Prior to becoming monarch, he was the Prince of Spain for seven years. He became constitutional monarch two days after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco.
In an address to the nation, the King said he is full of pride because of how far Spain has come in the past 40 years from dictatorship to democracy.
“Today should move to the first line a younger generation , with new energy , determined to embark resolutely transformations and reforms that the current situation is demanding and cope with renewed intensity and dedication tomorrow’s challenges.”
For much of his reign, Juan Carlos was seen as one of the world’s most popular monarchs by monarchists is Spain and elsewhere. However, in recent time, there has been increased criticism of the Spanish King due to a long-running corruption investigation into his daughter and her husband.
Additionally, he was further criticised when it was discovered he had been on a lavish elephant hunting trip to Botswana whilst Spain was in the middle of a financial crisis.
It is not yet known when Juan Carlos will abdicate because the government must now draft a law creating a legal mechanism for the abdication to take place.
Prime Minister Rajoy said Juan Carlos had been a “tireless defender of our interests” adding “I’m convinced this is the best moment for change.”
Speaking of 46-year-old Prince Felipe, Rajoy said “Felipe’s training, character and broad experience are a solid guarantee that his work will live up to the highest expectations.”
In recent months Felipe has been stepping in for his father at official ceremonies such as swearing-in Latin American dignitaries.
He is the third European monarch to abdicate in just over a year. Last year, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands handed the throne to her son Willem-Alexander after 33 years. King Albert II of Belgium also abdicated last July for the Prince of Asturias’s Belgian namesake King Philippe.
Upon his accession to the throne, Felipe will become Europe’s youngest Monarch, a distinction currently held by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. He will also be the 5th youngest reigning monarch living in the world.
King Juan Carlos’s speech in full
I approach all of you this morning through this message to convey, with great emotion, an important decision and the reasons that lead me to take it.
In my proclamation as King, it’s been nearly four decades, I took a firm commitment to serve the general interests of Spain, with the aim of them became citizens and the protagonists of their own destiny and our nation a modern democracy, fully integrated into Europe.
I was determined then lead the exciting national task that allowed citizens to elect their legitimate representatives and perform this great and positive transformation of Spain both needed.
Today, when I look back, I can not help but feel pride and gratitude to you.
Pride, so much good that we have all gotten over the years.
And gratitude for the support you have given me through my reign, which began in my youth and in times of great uncertainties and difficulties, a long period of peace, freedom, stability and progress.
True to the political desire of my father, the Count of Barcelona, from whom I inherited the historical legacy of the Spanish monarchy, I wanted to be King of all Spaniards. I have been identified and committed to your aspirations, I have enjoyed with your successes and I suffered when pain or frustration you have repossessed.
The long and deep economic crisis we have left serious scars on the social fabric but also we are showing a course of future full of hope.
These difficult years have allowed us to make a self-critical assessment of our mistakes and our shortcomings as a society.
And, as a counterweight also rekindled proud of what we have learned and awareness and we do what we have been and are – a great nation.
This has aroused in us an impulse for renewal, to improve, to correct errors and make way for a decidedly better future.
Today should move to the first line a younger generation, with new energy, determined to embark resolutely transformations and reforms that the current situation is demanding and cope with renewed intensity and dedication to the challenges of tomorrow.
In forging this future, a new generation seeks a just cause the title role, the same that corresponded at a crucial juncture in our history to the generation to which I belong.
My only ambition has always been and will continue to contribute to the welfare and progress in freedom of all Spaniards.
I want the best for Spain, to which I have devoted my entire life and in whose service I have put all my skills, my enthusiasm and my work.
My son Felipe, heir to the throne, embodies stability, which is a hallmark of the monarchy.
When last January turned seventy-six years time to prepare the relief in a few months to make way for who is best placed to ensure that stability I considered reached.
The Prince of Asturias has the maturity, preparation and sense of responsibility necessary to assume full guarantees the Head of State and open a new era of hope in which the experience and the drive to a new generation combined. For it will, I am sure, with the support you will always have of Princess Letizia.
Therefore, guided by the conviction of providing the best service to the Spanish and once recovered both physically and in my institutional activity, I have decided to end my reign and abdicate the Crown of Spain, so that the Government and the Parliament is provided to the effectiveness of succession in accordance with constitutional provisions.
So I chose this morning to officially inform the President.
I wish to express my gratitude to the Spanish people, all people who have incarnated the powers and state institutions during my reign and all who have helped me with generosity and loyalty to fulfill my duties.
And my gratitude to the Queen, whose cooperation and generous support have never failed me .
I keep and always will keep Spain in the depths of my heart.