In a surprise announcement on Monday, Spanish King Juan Carlos I will abdicate the throne, passing the crown to his son Felipe after forty years as Spain's ruling monarch.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made the announcement today, saying that the king, who is 76 years old, has made the decision for personal reasons. However, sources within the palace told Reuters that Carlos was leaving for political ones.
In a televised address, the king said he is ready to hand the throne over to the next generation: "[It is] time to hand over to a new generation — younger, with a lot of energy — that can, with determination, take on and carry out the changes that the current situation demands, and to face with intensity and determination the challenges of tomorrow." (Translation by CNN).
You can watch the abdication speech, delivered in Spanish, below:
The BBC reports that the 76-year-old king had been struggling with his health for some time. The king had also been battling against blows against the royal reputation. Back in February, Princess Cristina was questioned in court over allegations of corruption, marking the first time in the country's history that a member of the royal family was implicated in a criminal investigation. The monarchs were also criticized for leading lavish lifestyles while the country suffered through a crippling recession. Spain's staggering 26 percent unemployment rate is among the highest in all of Europe.
The king was ending the nation's military dictatorship after the death of Francisco Franco, in 1975, and then preventing a coup in 1981, per Reuters:
Television footage of the leader of the rebels firing his revolver in parliament to cow deputies had been shown across the world. "The crown, symbol of the permanence and unity of the motherland, cannot tolerate any actions or attitudes by persons who intend to interrupt the democratic process by force," he said to a nation on tenterhooks the night of the coup attempt.
According to the BBC, a constitutional amendment will be proposed to make the abdication legal.