The King of Spain, Juan Carlos, has abdicated.
The 76 year old king assumed the throne in 1975 two days after Francisco Franco died.
He will be succeeded by 46 year old Crown Prince Felipe. The announcement was made on television by Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. "I'm convinced this is the best moment for change," said Rajoy.
A poll conducted earlier in the year found 60 per cent of the Spanish people supported the king abdicating in favour of Crown Prince Felipe.
Furthermore, more than 40 per cent of Spaniards supported the total abolition of the monarchy. The Spanish PM praised Juan Carlos as a "tireless defender" of Spanish interests.
A new constitutional amendment will be proposed to allow for the abdication. Juan Carlos will explain his decision to the Spanish people later on Monday.
In 2012, the Spanish monarch faced intense criticism for his decision to go on an elephant hunting holiday paid for by the Saudi Arabian defence minister.
The king had been considering stepping down for some time, according to reports from El Pais.