King Juan Carlos Steps Off The Throne But Not Out Of The Spotlight

George Nielsen

King Juan Carlos of Spain is abdicating after almost 40 years on the throne.

In a surprise announcement Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, " His Majesty, King Juan Carlos, has just communicated to me his will to give up the throne, I'm convinced this is the best moment for change."

King Juan Carlos was very popular after he helped with Spain's smooth transition to democracy in the 1970's after the Francisco Franco dictatorship, and King Juan Carlos' common touch was beloved by the public and seen as much more accessible than the British Royals. However, due to corruption scandals and gaffes, King Juan Carlos has lost much of the public's support.

In recent years King Juan Carlos has seemed out of touch with the nation amid Spain's growing economic hardship. Spain has had a long, difficult recession, which has dwindled the public's faith in King Juan Carlos and the politicians.

king juan carlos and his wife

King Juan Carlos' daughter, Princess Cristina and her husband are under investigation in a corruption case that claims he embezzled €6 million in public funds through his charity. Both deny the claims.

Whilst it's believed King Juan Carlos is abdicating due to failing health, Chief of the royal household, Rafael Spottorno, stated that King Juan Carlos wants his son Prince Felipe to be on the throne while he's still young. "He saw, above all, that his son was in his prime and didn't want to see him like Prince Charles."

Prince Felipe is a more popular choice than King Juan Carlos; his reputation has not been tarnished by corruption. He is loved, like King Juan Carlos once was, for his common touch, married to a commoner wife and often spotted taking his daughters to school or to the local cinema.

Although to some he's seen as a fresh start, Prince Felipe, will have to fight the increasing anti-monarchist feeling, especially amongst the young when he takes over from King Juan Carlos.

A new poll showed that although citizens favoured King Juan Carlos' abdication, the majority want a referendum to decide wether Spain should remain a monarchy and tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest this.

On Sunday, King Juan Carlos appeared in public as the head of Spain's military for the last time before he hands the thrown to Prince Felipe.

King Juan Carlos and the monarchy marked Armed Forces day in Madrid.

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