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Happy Birthday to King Juan Carlos of Spain! The eldest son of the Count and Countess of Barcelona, heirs to the exiled King Alfonso XIII of Spain, Prince Juan Carlos was born in Rome, and spent his early life in Switzerland and Portugal before being allowed to enter Spain for his education. In 1962, he married Princess Sofia of Greece, sister of King Constantine, and they had three children; King Felipe VI, Infanta Elena, and Infanta Cristina. In 1969, General Franco, the dictator of Spain, appointed then Prince Juan Carlos as his heir, who succeeded him in 1975. King Juan Carlos dismantled the Francoist regime and began Spain’s transition to democracy. As King, he was very popular until the 2010s, when he was criticized for a private elephant-hunting trip to Botswana and the trial of his daughter, Infanta Christina, for tax fraud and money laundering. King Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, in favour of his son King Felipe VI. He and Queen Sofia attended some royal events, including the 70th Birthday celebrations of King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and the 80th Birthday Gala of King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, until he went into exile to Abu Dhabi in 2020, amid a corruption scandal. We wish him a very Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns!
One thought on “King Juan Carlos of Spain”
Despite his personal defects, the Spanish people owe a large debt of gratitude for this unlikely hero of a king. To live in close proximity to Franco without alienating the “Caudillo” and at the same time believing in and promoting the end of the entrenched totalitarian government is an extremely delicate ballet to dance and he danced it brilliantly. It’s a pity that he had to leave in semi-disgrace after such a magnificent maneuver. Still, I think history will judge him fairly and give him the credit he justly deserves. I wish him joy on his birthday!