This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
Advertisement

The Spanish King is abdicating after 39 years on the throne

King Juan Carlos’s abdication brings an end to a 39-year reign that ushered in democracy but ended in a string of scandals.

Spain's King Juan Carlos
Spain's King Juan Carlos
Image: PAUL WHITE/PA

Updated 4.42pm

SPANISH KING JUAN Carlos will abdicate in favour of his son Prince Felipe, the nation announced this morning, ending a 39-year reign that ushered in democracy but was was later battered by royal scandals.

The 76-year-old monarch, crowned in November 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco, is stepping down dogged by health woes and with his popularity deeply eroded by scandals swirling around him and his family.

“His Majesty King Juan Carlos has just informed me of his desire to renounce the throne and begin the process of succession,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in an impromptu announcement to the media.

He hands over the throne to 46-year-old Felipe de Borbon, a 1.98-metre (six foot six inches) tall former Olympic yachtsman, who has been relatively unscathed by the scandals that battered the rest of the family.

Frequently smiling but more reserved than his father, Felipe had long suffered from comparisons with the easy-going Juan Carlos, who played a historic role in Spain’s post-dictatorship transition.

But Juan Carlos’s image took a blow after he took a luxury elephant-hunting safari to Botswana in April 2012 as his subjects struggled in a recession, with one in four people unemployed.

Further damaging the royal family’s standing, a judge opened a corruption investigation in 2010 centred on former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, the husband of his youngest daughter, Cristina, who has also been accused of involvement.

At the same time, Felipe’s approval rating has risen.

Felipe wed former television presenter Letizia Ortiz in a glittering ceremony in Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral in 2004 after several previous romantic dalliances, including one with a Norwegian lingerie model.

Ortiz, a 41-year-old divorcee, was the first commoner to come in line for the Spanish throne.

Commenting on the announcement today, Irish President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to King Juan Carlos who he said “succeeded in uniting the Spanish people behind the democratic principles underlying the country’s Constitution”. He wished Crown Prince Felipe every success in his new role.

- © AFP 2014 with additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

First published 10.09am

Read: Judge names Spanish princess in corruption case

Read: Spanish king’s son-in-law appears in court over suspected fraudulent deals

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (78)