The King said it was time for a change, to hand the throne to the new generation – younger and with lots of energy – that will carry out the needed changes that are needed and the current situation demands.
The King added that the deep and long economic crisis the country is going through has left many scars socially, but is also now pointing towards hope in the future.
Crown Prince Felipe, who is 46, will be the successor to the throne that his father is abdicating. The King decided it was the right time for the change.
The reigning King said Felipe is mature, stable, is prepared and has a sense of responsibility that is necessary to serve as Spain’s king.
The decision by the King was first announced by Mariano Rajoy Spain’s Prime Minister.
Generally, Spaniards hold in high regard Juan Carlos, who is 76, for the service he has given the nation and the defense of democracy he has held following the death of Francisco Franco the country’s dictator in 1975.
However, the popularity of the King lessened in 2012 due a controversial hunting trip for elephants he took to Africa, while Spain was deeply mired in an economic crisis.
Many believe that the finest hour of the King came with his strong stand to stop the 1981 right wing military coup. At that time, he appeared on television to say the monarch refused to tolerate an interruption of democracy through force.
Juan Carlos was born in 1938 in Rome and did not enter Spain until the age of 10. In Spain under Franco’s rule, he trained in the military and became the first officer in Spain to hold lieutenant status in three different military branches.
During 1969, he was invested as the Crown Prince and was designated as Franco’s successor.
In November of 1975 just two days following the death of Franco, Juan Carlos was named King of Spain and the monarchy returned following an interregnum of 44 years.
He enacted reforms in 1977 that led to the first democratic election in Spain since 1936.