Juan Carlos' transfer of power
For a long time the Spanish King had refused to give up the throne. But on Monday (2.06.2014), Juan Carlos announced his abdication. His son, Crown Prince Felipe, is well prepared to take over as the new head of state.
End of an era
Juan Carlos is standing aside after almost four decades on the throne. But before a new king can be crowned, the Spanish parliament needs to amend the constitution. The Spanish legal system doesn't yet allow for the abdication of a monarch. Up to this point, 76-year-old Juan Carlos has only been able to inform Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of his decision to step down.
In the shadow of a dictator
For a long time Juan Carlos served solely as a representative of the royal family in Spain, with almost no political power. The country was ruled by the dictator Francisco Franco until 1975. Franco moved to restore the Spanish monarchy in 1946, and would later name Juan Carlos as his successor.
The democratic king
When General Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos became the King of Spain. He used the position to support the development of political parties and campaign for strengthened democracy. In 1978, a new Spanish constitution was drawn up, reintroducing parliamentary monarchy as the country's form of government.
Victory over the rebels
On February 23 1981, Juan Carlos delivered an historic speech to the nation. In the televised address, he denounced an attempted coup by sections of the military and the paramilitary Guardia Civil, and affirmed his commitment to the constitution. The coup failed, and the following day hundreds of thousands of people protested on the streets of Madrid, demanding democracy.
The compassionate monarch
In 2004, Juan Carlos won the hearts of many Spaniards. After an Islamist terrorist attack in Madrid left 191 people dead, he said in a television address, "The King is suffering with all of you." Juan Carlos also attended funerals for the victims, and comforted grieving relatives, openly weeping for all to see.
Royals fall into disrepute
In April 2012, Juan Carlos broke his hip during an elephant hunting trip in Botswana, and had to be flown back to Spain. Spaniards were outraged to see their head of state splurging on a luxury holiday at a time when their country was struggling through a financial crisis. Many took to the streets in protest.
A crumbling monarchy
As the royal family's public standing continued to fall, many Spaniards began to question whether it was necessary to have a monarch at all. Juan Carlos is said to have had extramarital affairs, and fathered illegitimate children. Additionally, Iñaki Urdangarin, the husband of his daughter Princess Cristina, has been accused of corruption, fraud and laundering millions of euros in public funds.
A new hope?
In abdicating the throne, Juan Carlos has made it clear he wants to see the Spanish monarchy continue. He said his son Crown Prince Felipe has what it takes to assume leadership of the state and usher in "a new era of hope." In Spain the prince is regarded as modest and extremely popular. Perhaps his ascension to the throne will go some way towards restoring faith in the monarchy.