SPANISH King Juan Carlos I announced his unexpected abdication yesterday, handing over the position to crown prince Felipe.
It puts an end to 39 years during which he helped Spain transition to democracy.
Juan Carlos I, who is 76, told Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of his wish to leave his position as monarch, which he has held for nearly four decades.
The country will need a constitutional amendment so that he can renounce the throne.
The King took over the country’s governance after the death of autocrat Francisco Franco in 1975.
Despite his position as Spanish royalty, he spent much of his childhood in Italy.
Crown prince Felipe, 46, is set to succeed as King.
Felipe was a member of one of Spain’s sailing teams in the 1992 Olympics.
He is married to former CNN journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, with whom he has two children.