Spain's King Juan Carlos To Abdicate The Throne

King Juan Carlos will abdicate in favor of his son, Prince Felipe. The 76-year-old king had been dogged by a series of health problems and scandals.

Spain's King Juan Carlos To Abdicate The Throne
Wikimedia Commons / Aleph

​​He was once considered one of the world’s most popular monarchs. Now, Spain’s King Carlos will abdicate after almost 40 years on the throne. (VIa ​​Flickr / UNWTO OMT)

​In 1975, he became Spain’s first crowned head of state when Spain’s military dictator Francisco Franco died after decades in power. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Jack E. Kightlinger, Wikimedia Commons / Revista Argentina)

Seventy-six-year-old Juan Carlos is credited with overseeing Spain’s smooth transition from fascism to democracy. (Via ITN)

His son, 46-year-old Crown Prince Felipe, will now succeed him. (Via Flickr / Richter Frank-Jurgen)

Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, made the announcement Monday, explaining the king was stepping down for personal reasons. But analysts took that to mean Juan Carlos was leaving the throne because he’d lost public support.

“This announcement perhaps is a chance for Prince Felipe — Crown Prince Felipe — to take over a fresh start, to rekindle the popularity.” (Via Sky News

Until fairly recently, the king's popularity was high. But a series of missteps coupled with a poor economy had many calling for him to step aside. (Via Flickr / Pedro de Matos)

His reputation took a hit in 2012 when it was revealed he went on an expensive elephant hunting trip at a time when Spain was in the middle of a recession and millions were unemployed. (Via The Guardian)

Making things worse, his daughter Princess Cristina and her husband are currently caught up in a long-running investigation into their spending habits. (Via PressTV)

Critics also questioned whether the 76-year-old king was still fit for the throne. He’s suffered from poor health in recent years, including a broken hip in 2012 and several surgeries. (Via The Wall Street Journal

A poll released in January found 62 percent of Spaniards wanted Juan Carlos to step down. Contast that with public opinion in 2012 — when 80 percent of the country said they supported him. (Via The Telegraph

The Guardian offers some insight on the stunning reversal. “Many, particularly young Spaniards, began to see the king as part of Spain's problems, drawing parallels between him and the economic and political powers that had driven the country into the economic crisis.”

Monday’s surprise announcement makes Juan Carlos the first Spanish king to pass the throne to one of his children since 1885. (Via Euronews)

Interestingly, the news follows a similar rare move from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. A year ago, she announced she would abdicate in favor of her son. (Via BBC)

In a news conference Monday, Prime Minister Rajoy said the constitution would be amended to allow Juan Carlos to abdicate. Unlike his father, Felipe's reputation has remained relatively untarnished, with his approval rating actually going up in recent years.