Sunday - Sep 24, 2017

King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicates in favour of his son

King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicates in favour of his son

Although it had been hanging in the air for some time, King Juan Carlos of Spain’s announcement that he plans to give up his throne in favour of his son Crown Prince Felipe took most Spanish people by surprise.

The Spanish monarchy has been the subject of a number of controversies in recent times, with the most outstanding and certainly most damaging were the criminal investigations conducted earlier this year against King Juan Carlos’s youngestdaughter, Princess Cristina Federica, who found herself involved in an alleged tax fraud and money laundering scandal in which her husband Iñaki Urdangarin was allegedly a key figure.

Urdangarin has been accused of embezzling millions of Euros through blatantly overcharging local and regional governments for services provided by an ostensibly a non-profit making marketing and consulting foundation which he controlled.

Despite the bad taste caused by the scandal, as well as Spain’s ongoing economic plight, palace officials have long insisted to the press that King Juan Carlos, who is now 76 years old and has been on the throne for close to forty years, remained determined to restore the monarchy to its former standing before stepping down.

However, it now appears that the king has had a change of heart and will now be handing over succession to his son, Crown Prince Felipe.

King Juan Carlos has undoubtedly played a major part in shaping the history of the country in the second half of the 20th century, most particularly for handling Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy, in the turbulent years that followed the Franco dictatorship, particularly for his role in quelling an attempted military coup in 1981.

According to Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, King Juan Carlos is scheduled to make a live television broadcast on Monday evening to explain his decision to the Spanish people.

Apart from the scandals involving the Royal family, King Juan Carlos’s health has also given cause to worry over the last year, when he underwent a series of operations that kept him out of the public eye for several months. The king has been reported to be gradually returning to health and had been seen to be once again taking up his familiar role in promoting Spanish trade and business interests overseas.

Little reaction to the news has been recorded so far in the Spanish media, although the king may well have taken into account a recent poll conducted by one of the nation’s largest newspapers that pointed to the fact that close to two-thirds of the Spanish public were in favour of the king stepping down, with close to half of the people taking part in the survey surprisingly stating that they would be not be against Spain relinquishing the monarchy altogether and becoming a republic.

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