Biography of Juan Carlos I de Borbón



Juan Carlos I de Borbón

“They have just legalize myself!” joked the Spanish King 38 years ago when the Constitutional  Commission approved the article 2 of the new Spanish Constitution in 1978. In almost 40 years  as Head of the State, Juan Carlos I Borbón have demonstrated from the beginning to the  abdication, his stabilizing abilities in foreign and domestic issues.

Spanish history since 1975 is characterized by the democratic transition, the incorporation to  the European Union and the economic and social modernization of the country. From 1978, his democratic profile have been recognized national and  internationally with 30 Honoris Causa and many prestigious prizes: Carlomagno (1982), Simón  Bolívar (1983), Prize Peace Félix Houphouët-Boigny by UNESCO (1994)…

1.  Son of Prince Juan and designated successor by Franco

Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was born on January 5, 1938 in Rome, he was the second son of Juan de Borbón and Maria de las Mercedes de Borbón future counts of Barcelone.

The prince and future king grew up in the Italian capital, the place of exile of the royal family when they were forced to leave Spain because of the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931.

The prince Juan wanted that his son to be educated in Spain, so he reached an agreement with the general Francisco Franco, in spite of the deep differences that they had.

Don Juan’s disaffected attitude auto discredited him as possible successor of Franco, who fixed his attention in Don Juan Carlos.

In 1948, he finished the baccalaureate in the Institute San Isidro, the most former educational center of the Spanish capital. He also took his military instruction in the Military Academy of Zaragoza, in the Marín’s Naval School and in the General Academy of Air of San Javier.

In 1961 he finished his studies of Constitutional and International Law, Economy and Public Estate in the “Universidad Complutense” of Madrid, he also finished his monographic courses in Toledo.

On May 14, 1962, he married the princess Sofía Oldenburg y Guelph, daughter of the kings Paul I and Federica of Greece and between 1963 and 1968 had three children: infant Elena and Cristina  and Felipe.

On July 22, 1969 don Juan Carlos was designated by the Spanish Parliament successor of Franco in the headquarters of the State as king and with the provisional title of  prince.

On June 15, 1971 he was designated by law to replace provisionally the chief of the State in case of absence or disability.

2. Monarch of the restoration of democracy in Spain.

Being sick Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos succeeded him as head of state between July 19 and September 2, 1974, and again from 30 October 1975. On November 20 the dictator died and day 22, the prince was proclaimed King of Spain by the legislature, which was the replacement of the Bourbon monarchy.

The Constitution of 1978 defined the political, representative and ceremonial functions of the king, who missed the entire executive branch of the Franco legacy system and became a parliamentary and democratic monarch, as the ones of the Weastern Europe.

One of his most significant decisions was to appoint, Adolfo Suárez González, the president of the government in July 1976, until then Minister Secretary General of the Movement. Suárez’s government launched the Political Reform Act, left parties were again legal and the first democratic elections were celebrated.

Between 1977 and 1982 Juan Carlos exercised his reign over two terms, the first constituent. The king returned to excel with the attempted military coup of 23 February 1981. The failure of the F-23 was a turning point that finally consolidated the Spanish democracy and the image of the monarch within and outside the country.

Juan Carlos served as a true ambassador of the Spanish policy, with a great recovery aid or strengthening relations with Latin America, the Middle East, the European Economic Community and the United States, geographic areas of great importance to Spain’s foreign policy.

3. Some Controversies (2007-2012)

The King of Spain has had different controversies along these few years.

In fact in 2007 during the “XVII Iberoamerican Summit” (Cumbre Iberoamericana) in Chile, his royal majesty starred two different acts, which fill immediately the news worldwide. The first one was his spontaneous response to the president of Venezuela Mr. Hugo Cháves, spontaneous answer “¿Por qué no te callas?” (“Why don´t you shut up?”).

The second one was a meditated act where the King, Zapatero and Foreign Minister exit the speech of the Nicaraguan president, as a symbol of protest of his previous words.

Both acts were an answer of what authorized personnel of the royal house had stated as “He answer because he felt Spain and its representatives were been attacked”, and declared that he did what he thought needed to be done.

As a consequences, these acts affected negatively bilateral relation between Spain and Venezuela.

The official visit that the kings of Spain realize November 5th and 6th of 2007 to Ceuta y Melilla, Spanish cities located in Africa and reclaimed by the Morocco, affected the foreign policy; altering for a brief period of time the internationals relations between Spain and Morocco.

This succession of news about King Juan Carlos I in the year of 2007, have made that the King himself, in some official events took to remainder that parliamentary monarchy is the livelihood of Constitution and it determines:  the longest stability and prosperity period in democracy lived by Spain.

4. Abdication

With a delay of half-an-hour, King Juan Carlos appeared on Spanish television at 1pm on Monday, just hours after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that the monarch was to abdicate.

Some of the declarations that we would like to highlight:

“When I was proclaimed king, nearly four decades ago, I took on a firm commitment to serve Spain’s general interest, moved by the desire to make citizens the agents of their own destinies and for our nation to become a modern democracy, one that was fully integrated into Europe.”

“Today, when I look back, I cannot help feeling proud and grateful to you.”

“Proud because of the many good things we have achieved together throughout the years.”

“And grateful for your support, which has made my reign – which I began as a young man at a time of great uncertainty and difficulty – a long period of peace, freedom, stability and progress.”

“A new generation is legitimately demanding a central role in the forging of this future. A younger generation with new energy has the determination to undertake the transformation and reforms demanded by the current situation.”

“The Prince of Asturias has the maturity, training and sense of responsibility that are necessary to fully guarantee his position as head of state and begin a new period of hope that combines acquired experience with the thrust of a new generation.”

“Spain will always be in my heart.”


The King’s speech after proclaiming his abdication


Sara Iturbe, Tatiana Lozano, Anne Loran, Arantxa Gutiérrez



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