The Spanish King Abdicates

by John Bascombe on Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Spanish King Juan Carlos

Juan Carlos I, King of Spain

On June 2, 2014, at around noon, the news started to spread. Even though it may not have a been a complete surprise there was a shockwave that hit the Spanish and international press outlets: Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, let it be known that he was going to abdicate in favor of his son Felipe, who will soon be known as Felipe VI (Philip VI).

In the Royal Spanish Academy dictionary we can read that the noun abdication is an "action and effect of abdicating", and the verb To Abdicate is: "Of a king or prince: To cease their sovereignty or renounce it."

At 76 years of age, Juan Carlos de Borbón has made the decision to give up his throne so that his son can now take on the role as the Spanish Head of State. The King, after years of shaky health due to different causes, has been hampered in his ability to meet all of his institutional obligations to the level he would have liked. But, what has likely been decisive in his decision is the notable decline in the popularity of the Crown for various reasons, some inopportune, that have involved members of the royal family both directly and indirectly. What this means is that the continuity of the Spanish State is at a turning point in history since Juan Carlos, head of state since the beginning of Spain's modern democracy, will step aside to permit the new generation to take over the reins of the monarchy.

Throughout the history of Spain, among the cases of abdication, there have been two cases that have been curiously close together: In the chaotic times of the latter half of the 19th century, Queen Isabel II was obliged to step down due to the revolution of 1868, also known as the "Glorious Revolution". She abdicated June 25, 1870 to her son who would reign with the title Alfonso XII. But before he would take the throne, the Constituent Cortes of the Spanish Republic immediately elected a new King from the House of Savoy, Amadeo I. Faced with many problems both internal and external, he abdicated 11 February, 1873. His abdication would open the doors to the short-lived First Spanish Republic and the subsequent rule of Alfonso XII in 1874.

The abdication of Juan Carlos I will inevitably remind us of how he came to be King and his role during the Transition to the Democracy that exists today in Spain. Surely, we will also remember the vital part he played in the failed coup attempt February 23, 1981. Juan Carlos I has been a very popular King among the Spanish people for his affability and simplicity. Unfortunately, this popularity has been declining the last few years for different and unfortunate circumstances which have distanced the King form the people. The role of Crown Prince Felipe has been strengthened during time by efforts of the palace to increase his visibility as well as by the Crown Prince who has been more proactive in his role as future King, actively participating in events representing the Royal Family. Felipe has also earned the sympathy of many Spaniards by "marrying for love" with a well known (and divorced) news anchor, Letizia Ortiz. Felipe and Letizia have continuously demonstrated a high level of personal discretion since their start as a couple, something very different when compared to the tabloid lives of the Infantas (his sisters), which has only strengthened don Felipe's image as heir.

We still do not know when the Coronation will take place for the future King, but it appears as though it will take place shortly, sometime during the month of June.

In the Culture section of you can find a wide range of reference articles that discuss the history of Spain and assist you in enriching your knowledge with regard to the importance of the event that this article talks about: the abdication of King Juan Carlos I. You can also read our article on the man who will soon be called Felipe VI.

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