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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

King Juan Carlos of Spain Abdicates

After a year of speculation whether he would abdicate or continue his reign until death, King Juan Carlos of Spain, on Monday, June 2, 2014, ended the controversies by announcing his abdication in favor of his only son, Felipe, the Prince of Asturias.

In his memorable abdication speech, he acknowledged the need of the century's old monarchy to breath fresh air under young royals, "A new generation must be at the forefront...younger people with new energy", the King announced.

The Spanish King became the third European monarch to step down from the throne in two years time after Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (April 2013) and King Albert II of Belgium (July 2013). Nearly 39 years of ruling Spain, the King has become an instrument of the sweeping changes that the country experienced since the transition of the government from the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

The King, who reigned under the royal house of Bourbon-Hapsburg, largely shaped the modern history of Spain and credited for revitalizing the country's stature in the global community. He has been on the throne since November 1975 in what could have been a highly successful reign of any other Kings in Europe in the modern times. He became extremely popular and enjoyed enormous admiration from his subjects for the last three decades. Until series of controversies involving his direct family tarnished the prestige of the crown.

His popularity further plummeted when the country's financial condition did not recover after the recession, the royal household spending in the middle of crisis was intrigued as somewhat crossing the boundary line, he was further criticized when it was known that he spent lavishly on an elephant hunting trip in Botswana amidst the country's financial meltdown.

The final blow that tore the last strand of trust came after his son-in-law, IƱaki Urdanganin, was involved in a corruption issues for misusing funds of the foundation he managed. The corruption scandal was even implicated his younger daughter, Princess Cristina, the Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, as one of the major players in the corruption charges, though no strong evidence could justify the accusations.

The King and the rest of the royal family tried hard to distance themselves from the issues, even to the point of removing the profile of Cristina's husband in the official page of the royal household, but media pressures and public protests became intense that no other fair option for the King but to abdicate.

Father and Son
Felipe, the Prince of Asturias, and King Juan Carlos of Spain

The abdication of King Juan Carlos did not actually surprise most royalists as this event was already speculated since last year. Though King Juan Carlos vehemently denied the issues early this year, several analysts predicted that only a matter of time before the King would yield to pressures.
In addition to the controversies, he King suffered poor health for the last four years, he had undergone multiple hip replacement surgeries in just three years. He often graced public engagements in crutches.
Their Majesties, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia
The Queen is formerly Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark
eldest child of King Paul of Greece and Queen Federica, she is a niece of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain
King Juan Carlos, Queen Sophia, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II and most current European monarchs are third cousins through Queen Victoria of England

King Juan Carlos came to the Spanish throne after his father, Prince Juan, after.Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who led the Spanish revolution during World War II, died in 1975. The revolution forced Juan Carlos's grandfather, King Alfonso XIII, to give up the throne and went into exile in Italy. After series of negotiation with Alfonso's heir, Prince Juan, the Count of Barcelona, Franco relented and agreed to restore the monarchy to the family after his death.In November 1975, Franco died, but Prince Juan declined the crown in favor of his only surviving son, Prince Juan Carlos.
The Spanish royal family
From left: Princess Letezia, Prince Felipe, King Juan Carlos, Queen Sophia, Infanta Elena
Front row: Infanta Eleanor and Infanta Sofia, Felipe's daughters 
At the King's abdication, his subjects are hoping his successor, Prince Felipe, could bring back the prestige of the Spanish crown. Having a new royal family that will unite the divided Spain is a fresh breather.

Prince Felipe, the Prince of Asturias, 45, just like his father, is an Olympian, he took part in Sailing/Yachting event during the Barcelona Olympics. He is married to Letezia Ortiz Rocasolano, a former news anchor. They have two daughters, Infanta Eleanor and Infanta Sofia. Upon her husband's accession to the throne, Letezia would be the first commoner Queen Consort of Spain.

It was not known however what role King Juan Carlos would be assuming after the accession of his son, who would reign under the name King Felipe VI. But just like the rest of the European monarchs who abdicated, the King might not take part actively in the ceremonial functions of the monarchy and might prefer to remain private.

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