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Spain's King Juan Carlos Abdicates For His Son
Spain's King Juan Carlos is abdicating to allow his son Prince Felipe to take over, the country's Prime Minister has announced.
Mariano Rajoy addressed the nation to say there would be an amendment to the constitution so the 46-year-old Crown Prince could take the throne.
The 76-year-old king, who oversaw his country's transition from dictatorship to democracy, has had health problems in recent years.
In the last few years the monarchy has been hit by scandals including a furore over an elephant-hunting trip Juan Carlos took during the financial crisis.
In the last few months, his daughter, the Infanta Cristina, has appeared in court to face questions over financial allegations surrounding her husband.
His abdication comes a year after a similar move by the Dutch former Queen Beatrix, who stood aside to allow her son Crown Prince Willem-Alexander to take the throne.
Albert II of Belgium also abdicated last year.
Those abdications prompted speculation that Queen Elizabeth II may do something similar.
Juan Carlos later made a short statement explaining that his decision was motivated by "a drive for renewal, to overcome and correct mistakes and open the way to a decidedly better future".
He added that the succession of Felipe would "open a new era of hope combining his acquired experience and the drive of a new generation."
The date that the abdication will take place has yet to be announced. Queen Beatrix's handover came about three months after the announcement was made.
The king came to power in 1975, two days after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, who won a bloody civil war in the late 1930s.
Juan Carlos oversaw the maturing of Spain's democracy following the death of Franco, as it joined the EU and stayed united despite major separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque region.
In last week's EU Parliamentary elections, Catalonia's separatist party won the biggest share of the vote in the autonomous community.