Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced this morning that King Juan Carlos, who has been Spain’s Head of State for 39 years and helped restore Democracy to the country, will abdicate.
Don Juan Carlos had talked down the possibility of abdicating in recent years, but now says he made his decision during his 76th birthday earlier this year.
The King said in a message to the nation it was important to recognize the influence of “a younger generation, with new energies.” He said Prince Felipe, who will soon be proclaimed King, represents “stability.”
The King’s abdication is the latest in a string of European Monarchs stepping down. But it also comes amid ongoing economic and political troubles.
Prince Felipe, and his wife Letizia, the soon-to-be Queen Consort, will have to promote Spanish unity amid pro-independence rumblings in Catalonia and the Basque Country.
Prince Felipe will be proclaimed (not crowned) King soon. The action has to be ratified by the Cortes as the Constitution requires for abdications.
-King Juan Carlos’ abdication announcement drew praise for the Monarch’s work from conservative Popular Party and Socialist Party leaders. United Left, however, called for a referendum on the Monarchy.
-Catalan President Artur Mas said change at the top of Spanish politics would not stop his push for a referendum on independence.
-Several thousand people hit the streets in Madrid and Barcelona to call for a referendum on whether to keep the Monarchy.
-The Spanish government will introduce legislation this week to begin the process of ratifying the abdication and welcoming Prince Felipe as the new King. Debate will follow in the Cortes.
-Prince Felipe’s proclamation as King could begin, media reports indicate, as soon as the 16th of this month.
-Details remain to be worked out, including the future legal standing of Don Juan Carlos, who is currently considered “inviolable.”
-The Royal Household released a timeline with images of important events in the future King’s life, including swearing allegiance to the Constitution in 1986.