2. Franco (right) thought he could control Juan Carlos, even after he died, and intended for him to carry on his legacy. But the king had other ideas, and helped begin Spain’s transition to democracy, earning the admiration of many Spaniards.
4. But questions surround the exact size of the 76-year-old king’s wealth, with some saying it could be €2.5 billion. As Spain has entered a terrible recession in recent years, his popularity ratings have been badly hit, which may have led him to abdicate.
Juan Carlos as a young prince in the 1960s with his wife, Sofia, showing off his motorbike skills.
5. In 2007, satirical magazine El Jueves published a cartoon mocking his son Felipe — now the new king. In any other democracy, it might have passed without comment. In Spain, the magazine was impounded for offending the “honor and dignity” of the monarchy.
In the cartoon Prince Felipe is depicted telling his wife “Do you realize that if you get pregnant it will be the closest that I come to working in my life?!” as they have sex.
6. In 2012, the king fell while on a secret elephant-hunting trip in Botswana, and had to be airlifted back to Madrid. The image of him enjoying a colonial–style African adventure went down very badly among the Spanish public.
7. Rumors have long abounded that the queen has had to put up with the King’s serial infidelities. Last year Vanity Fair ran a long article in which his alleged affair with the much-younger Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was discussed in detail.
9. Spanish Twitter has been thoroughly enjoying the whole business, of course. Some have wondered whether Prince Charles is sitting at home, hoping his mother decides to follow Juan Carlos’ lead.
Juan Carlos and Sophia with Charles and Diana in 1986.