The prime minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, has announced that King Juan Carlos will abdicate in favour of his son Crown Prince Felipe. Rajoy said ""His Majesty King Juan Carlos has just informed me of his desire to renounce the throne and begin the process of succession." King Juan Carlos took to the airwaves and TV Monday to explain his decision to the Spanish people. They may have balked at his words especially when he "highlighted his pride in the "transformation of Spain" and the "tremendous amount achieved by all" since the country's transition into democracy". When he said it was time for a "new era" they would all no doubt agree.
The King took over as head of the country in 1975 after he was named by Spanish dictator General Franco as his successor, prior Franco's death. He heralded democracy into the country and became the first Spanish monarch since 1931.
The once popular King has ruled Spain for the last 39 years but his popularity has taken a tumble in recent years.
Older Spaniards will remember the bad old days of Franco but the younger generation will only know the bad new days, as EU austerity measures continue to bite.
The King's health is declining but the decision to abdicate is complicated. A fresh new royal could help stabilise a struggling economy and volatile Spain but it may not.
Royal families, more often than not, are out of touch with reality. They live in a cocooned world simply glimpsing poverty from time to time. They need to tread a careful path in order to remain popular and incidents such as Juan Carlos elephant hunting exploits do not inspire a nation.
In April 2012 we reported "King Juan Carlos of Spain was under fire this weekend for an ill-timed elephant hunt. The 74-year-old King appeared to almost have a Nero attitude to Spain's dire economic woes. You know, Nero fiddled as Rome burnt whereas the King played big game hunter whilst his people struggled to keep financially sound. The King's frivolous hunt cost a whopping £26,000. For this blogger there is also the matter of unnecessary animal killing. Killing animals for the hell of it, or as some would claim sport, has no place in 21st Century life". It was a €10,000-a-day hunting safari in Botswana.
Little wonder his popularity has dwindled.
Further scandals left around two-thirds of all Spaniards wanting him to abdicate.
Although Juan Carlos's popularity fell his son Felipe remains relatively popular. If the country is to continue with a monarchy he will be Spain's best bet.
Clashes between protesters and police continue in Spain as the jobless total soars. With Catalans wanting independence from Spain King Felipe will have his work cut out.