Spain’s King Juan Carlos is abdicating to allow his son Prince Felipe to take over, the country’s Prime Minister has announced.
MarianoRajoyaddressed the nation to say that there would be an amendment to the constitutionto allow the 46-year-old Crown Prince to take over.
The 76-year-old king oversaw his country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy but in recent years has had repeated health problems.
In the last few years the monarchy has been beset by scandals, which included a furore over an elephant hunting trip Juan Carlos took during the financial crisis.
In the last few months, his daughter the Infanta Cristinahas appeared in court to face questions over an financial allegations which have engulfed her husband.
The king came to power in 1975, two days after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, who won a bloody civil war in the late 1930s.
Mr Rajoysaid: “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.”
His move comes a year after a similar one by the Dutch former Queen Beatrix, who stood aside to allow her son Crown Prince Willem-Alexanderto take the throne.
That abdication prompted speculation that the British Queen Elizabeth II may do something similar.
Mr Rajoy said that Juan Carlos, who has had a number of hip operations in recent years, is stepping down for personal reasons.
The date that the abdication will take place has yet to be announced. Queen Beatrix’shandover came about three months after the announcement was made.
Juan Carlos oversaw the maturing of Spain’s democracy following the death of Franco, as it joined the EUand stayed united despite major separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque region.
In last week’s EU Parliamentary elections, Catalonia’s separatist party won the biggest share of the vote in the autonomous community.
Felipe de Borbon, former Olympic yachtsman, will take the throne largely unscathed by scandals that have battered the royal family.
Frequently smiling but more reserved than his father, the 6ft 6insFelipehas long suffered from comparisons with the man who will have preceded him.
But while the popularity rating of his father has fallen, Felipe’sa approval rating has risen.
Pollsters Sigma Dos, who carried out a survey in December 2013, found that the number of people who wanted the king to abdicate in favour of Felipewas 62%.
2 June 2014 | 9:31 am – Source: orange.co.uk