Spain's King Juan Carlos to abdicate throne - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Spain's King Juan Carlos to abdicate throne

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Spaniards generally hold Juan Carlos, 76, in high regard for his service to the nation. (Source: WikiCommons - Ricardo Stuckert/MGN Photos) Spaniards generally hold Juan Carlos, 76, in high regard for his service to the nation. (Source: WikiCommons - Ricardo Stuckert/MGN Photos)

MADRID, Spain (CNN) - After nearly 40 years on the throne, King Juan Carlos I of Spain will be stepping down, the country's prime minister said Monday.

Crown Prince Felipe, 46, will succeed his father, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced in nationally televised address.

Rajoy did not offer a reason for the king's planned abdication. The king was expected to issue a statement later Monday.

Spaniards generally hold Juan Carlos, 76, in high regard for his service to the nation and his defense of democracy after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

The focus of his reign was to bring about reconciliation between Spaniards of different political persuasions and from different regions

Many consider the the king's finest hour to be his decisive stand to halt a right-wing military coup in 1981, when he went on television to say that the monarchy would not tolerate attempts to interrupt democracy by force.

Born in Rome in 1938, Juan Carlos didn't set foot in Spain until he was 10.

In Franco's Spain, he carried out military training and became the first Spanish officer to hold the rank of lieutenant in all three branches of the military.

In 1969, he was invested as crown prince and the designated successor to Franco.

On Nov. 22, 1975 - two days after Franco's death - Juan Carlos was crowned King of Spain, restoring the monarchy after a 44-year interregnum.

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