Spain awoke to surprising news today: After nearly 40 years on the throne, King Juan Carlos I has announced his abdication. This announcement follows several other notable royal abdications in recent years, including those of Queen Beatrix in the Netherlands and Albert II of Belgium.
According to a CNN translation of the abdication speech, the King said that he wished to pass on the throne "to a new generation -- younger, with a lot of energy -- that can, with determination, take on and carry out the changes that the current situation demands, and to face with intensity and determination the challenges of tomorrow."
The King also noted the global economic crisis that hit Spain particularly hard, but he claimed that the future was one of hope.
Juan Carlos' message to his people is below, in Spanish.
Crown Prince Felipe will succeed his father. The king praised his son as having "the maturity, the preparation, and the sense of responsibility necessary" to serve as king and "to lead to a new stage of hope using his experience and the drive of a new generation."
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that the Spanish Constitution would be amended to permit the King to abdicate, the New York Times is reporting. Juan Carlos recently went to the Middle East to help promote Spain’s business interests in the region, but health problems during the past two years have prevented him from traveling as much as he used to.