Spain's King Juan Carlos Steps Down
76-year-old passes throne to Prince Felipe
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jun 2, 2014 6:23 AM CDT
Updated Jun 2, 2014 7:39 AM CDT
In this Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, file photo, Spain's Crown Prince Felipe, center, King Juan Carlos, left, and Queen Sofia, right, attend a ceremony at the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain.   (AP Photo/Gerard Julien, Pool, File)

(Newser) – At 76, Spain's King Juan Carlos is abdicating after four decades, handing the throne to his son, Prince Felipe. "A new generation must be at the forefront," he said in a nationally televised address. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the move today, calling on the courts to name Felipe king, the Guardian reports. Rajoy called the king "a tireless defender of our interests," citing personal reasons for his departure; he has faced recent health problems. Juan Carlos has long been among the world's most popular monarchs, the BBC notes, but recent years have seen their fair share of controversy.

In 2012, the king sparked anger with an extravagant elephant-hunting trip to Botswana as Spain was embroiled in its financial crisis. He has also grappled allegations of corruption faced by his daughter and her husband; that scandal doesn't seem to have affected Felipe's reputation, the BBC reports. Juan Carlos was crowned in 1975 following dictator Francisco Franco's death. Though Franco's supporters called for continued autocratic government, the king led a transition to parliamentary democracy, the BBC notes.

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Jun 2, 2014 10:08 AM CDT
Spain is one of several European countries that tried a republic form of government, like the US, and then went back to a parliamentary democracy with a royal family that has only ceremonial powers
Jun 2, 2014 9:51 AM CDT
The king is stepping down? Does that mean he'll live in a little cottage at the back of the palace grounds rarely to show up in public again?
Jun 2, 2014 9:17 AM CDT
The USA is being sold down the socialistic 4" sewer pipe by an incompetent president and worse, the incumbents in both of our two ruling parties that have long ago stopped representing the stupid people that keep them in office. People, our government is spending almost $1.40 for every $1 it takes in. That portends rampant inflation down the road and a national debt that your children and grandchildren won't even be able to pay the interest on!