Juan Carlos I

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Juan Carlos I

Juan Carlos I (hwän kär´lōs), 1938–, king of Spain (1975–2014), b. Rome. The grandson of Alfonso XIII, he was educated in Switzerland and in Spain. Placed by his father, Don Juan de Borbón, under the care of Francisco Franco as a possible successor, he graduated from Spain's three military academies and received commissions in the army, navy, and air force; he also did graduate work at the Univ. of Madrid and served apprenticeships in many government departments. He married Princess Sophia of Greece in 1962; they have three children. In 1969 he was designated heir to the throne and Franco's successor. After Franco's death in 1975, he became the first Spanish king since his grandfather was deposed in 1931. A popular monarch, he presided over Spain's transition to democracy with intelligence and sensitivity. He acted decisively to maintain political stability in Spain, as in choosing Adolfo Suárez as premier in 1976, foiling a right-wing military coup in 1981, and handling a scandal involving anti-Basque death squads in the mid-1990s. His popularity suffered in the 2010s when his wealthy lifestyle contrasted sharply with Spain's economic difficulties and after his son-in-law and later his daughter were investigated on corruption charges. He abdicated in 2014 and was succeeded by his son, Felipe (Philip VI).

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