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Juan Carlos of Spain

King Juan Carlos, depicted on the Spanish €2 coin
Juan Carlos (born January 5, 1938) is the reigning King of Spain since 1975. His image is on the Spanish euro coins.

His grandfather Alfonso XIII was King of Spain until deposed in 1931 by the Second Spanish Republic. The Republic was infamously ended by the Spanish Civil War and followed by the fascist regime of Francisco Franco, who ruled until his death on November 20th 1975. On November 22th, Juan Carlos became the King of Spain.

Franco ignored the successory rights of Juan de Borbon, the father of Juan Carlos, and tried to educate Juan Carlos as his successor for the maintenance of the regime. At the death of Franco, the monarchy was restored and the control was given to Juan Carlos, whom the dictator had groomed to be his fascist successor.

However, Juan Carlos quickly instituted democratic reforms and a new constitution was promulgated, to the great displeasure of conservative elements, especially in the military, who had expected him to maintain the fascist state. An attempted coup, in which the Cortes was seized, with gunfire in the parliamentary chamber, seemed likely to derail the process, until the unprecedented public television broadcast by the King called for unambiguous support for the legitimate democratic government. In the hours before, the King had personally called senior military figures throughout Spain, many of whom had been told by coup leaders that he was supporting them, to tell them in no uncertain terms as their king that they must defend the democratic government. When he became king, one communist leader (Santiago Carrillo[?]) nicknamed him 'Juan Carlos the Brief', predicting that he and the monarchy would be swept away with all the remnants of fascism. In 1981, that same leader, after the collapse of the coup, in a clearly emotional state told television viewers 'God save the King'! If public support for the monarchy among democrats and left wingers prior to 1981 was conditional, following the King's handling of the coup it was unconditional and absolute, with a former senior leader of the Second Republic telling television viewers 'we are all monarchists now'.

Today, the king reigns as a constitutional monarch, exercising little practical power over the country's politics. He is regarded as an essential symbol of the country's unity, though his interventions and views are listened to and respected by politicians from all sides of the political divide.

His wife is Queen Sofia, a member of the former Greek royal family. They have three children: the infantas Elena and Cristina, and the heir apparent, the Prince of Asturias, Felipe.

He is a member of the Club of Rome.


See also History of Spain.

Preceded by Alfonso XIII of Spain, the Second Spanish Republic, and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco List of Spanish monarchs Heir Apparent
Felipe de Borbon, Prince of Asturias



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