King Juan Carlos of Spain has announced his abdication after almost 40 years of ruling.
Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy has announced the abdication in the morning but did not mention the reasons behind it in his speech.
A government source, however, has said King Juan Carlos was stepping down for “personal reasons”.
King Juan Carlos of Spain has announced his abdication after almost 40 years of ruling
The king had been on the throne for almost 40 years. He took over after fascism in Spain came to an end with the death of General Franco in November 1975.
King Juan Carlos’ son Prince Felipe – who is 45 – will succeed him.
In his televised address, King Juan Carlos said his abdication was motivated by “a drive for renewal, to overcome and correct mistakes and open the way to a decidedly better future”.
King Juan Carlos said he made the decision to abdicate in January, when he turned 76.
Juan Carlos expressed gratitude to the Spanish people, and said the country had enjoyed a long period of peace, stability and progress.
The king said he made his decision “with great emotion”.
At the end of the relatively short speech, King Juan Carlos thanked his wife, Queen Sofia.
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King Juan Carlos of Spain has said all Spanish people feel the pain of the families of the 80 people killed in a high-speed train crash near Santiago de Compostela.
The king was speaking on a visit to the dozens of hospitalized survivors in Santiago de Compostela, near to where the train derailed on Wednesday night.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who hails from the city of the crash, declared three days of official mourning on Thursday.
One of the train drivers is under formal investigation, officials say.
The driver, named by Spanish media as Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, was slightly injured and will be questioned by police in hospital, the Galicia Supreme Court said in a statement.
Spain’s national train operator Renfe said it was too early to say what caused the train to derail. However, survivor accounts and media reports suggest the train was travelling at excessive speed as it hit a curve in the track.
Footage captured by a security camera shows the train crashing as it hurtled round a bend.
King Juan Carlos and his wife Queen Sofia visited survivors and the families of victims at Santiago’s University Hospital on Thursday.
“All Spanish people join in the sorrow of the relatives of the deceased,” he said, praising what he called the spirit of citizenship shown by rescue workers and blood donors.
King Juan Carlos of Spain on a visit to the dozens of hospitalized survivors in Santiago de Compostela
PM Mariano Rajoy was at the scene of the crash on Thursday.
“For a native of Santiago like me, this is the saddest day,” he said.
At least 130 people were taken to hospital after the crash, and 94 are still being treated, health officials say.
Thirty-two people are seriously injured, including children.
People from several nationalities are among the wounded, including five Americans and one Briton. One American was among the dead.
The Madrid to Ferrol train’s data recording “black box” is now with the judge in charge of the investigation.
Meanwhile, the train’s carriages have been removed from the track by cranes and sent for analysis.
The president of railway firm Renfe, Julio Gomez Pomar, was quoted by El Mundo newspaper as saying the driver, who was aged 52, had 30 years of experience with the company and had been operating trains on this line for more than a year.
He said the train which derailed had no technical problems.
“The train had passed an inspection that same morning. Those trains are inspected every 7,500km… Its maintenance record was perfect,” he told Spanish radio.
But Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, who was trapped in the cab after the accident, is quoted as saying moments after the crash that the train had taken the curve at 190 km/h (120mph) despite a speed limit on that section of 80 km/h.
If this is the case, it remains to be seen whether a systems failure or driver error was the cause, correspondents say.
Spain has invested huge amounts of money in its rail network and has a relatively good safety record.
According to official figures, the crash is one of the worst rail disasters in Spanish history.
Renfe said the train came off the tracks a few kilometres before Santiago de Compostela station at 20:41 local time on Wednesday.
It was on the express route between the capital, Madrid, and the port city of Ferrol on the Galician coast, with 218 passengers on board – in addition to an unknown number of staff and crew.
Witnesses to the crash described seeing carriages “piled on top of one another” after the train hit a curve.
The derailment happened on the eve of Santiago de Compostela’s main annual festival where thousands of Christian pilgrims were expected to flock to the city in honor of St James.
The local tourism board cancelled all festivities as the city went into mourning.
In a new book by Spanish author Pilar Eyre is claimed that Princess Diana was just one of the many young ladies King Juan Carlos of Spain pursued in a romantic career in which he is said to have bedded more than 1,500 women.
The explosive claims are made in one of the six volumes about the Spanish royal family written by Pilar Eyre.
Imperious and suave, Juan Carlos looks every inch the old-style monarch with the autocratic manners to go with it. He loves hunting bears, skiing and boating and bedding the opposite sex.
In one picture, King Juan Carlos of Spain sits with the small Prince William, while a radiant Princess Diana, a protective arm round toddler Prince Harry, leans in to share a pleasantry with the good-looking monarch. At the other end of the couch, Prince Charles seems scarcely part of the same holiday party in 1986. He is staring glumly straight ahead like the proverbial gooseberry.
Apparently, it is an open secret in his circles that he is such a keen womanizer that the only woman he does not spend much time with is his wife, Greek-born Queen Sofia.
According to Pilar Eyre, King Juan Carlos, now 74, and Queen Sofia have not shared a bed for 35 years.
In fact, the new book, “The Solitude of the Queen”, says, following an operation on a benign lung tumor at a Barcelona hospital in 2010, the woman who spent most of the time consoling King Juan Carlos during his convalescence was a 25-year-old German interpreter called Corinne.
But can it really be true that our very own Princess Diana was one of Juan Carlos’s most significant conquests? And that it was the relationship between her and the then 48-year-old king, in the prime of his romantic life, that finally put paid to any chance of reviving his marriage?
It is certainly the case that Princess Diana, together with Prince Charles and their young children, holidayed in Majorca with the Spanish royal family several times during the 80’s.
Prince Charles never felt at ease on the sunshine island and much preferred visiting the Duke of Wellington’s estate near Granada on the mainland where the shooting was good.
In one picture, King Juan Carlos of Spain sits with the small Prince William, while a radiant Princess Diana, a protective arm round toddler Prince Harry, leans in to share a pleasantry with the good-looking monarch
But Diana, who loved lounging about on yachts in stylish bathing suits, was right at home on the shores of the Mediterranean where she could show off her figure. And King Juan Carlos, who appreciated displays of female beauty, seems to have acted on an impulse to get closer to her.
After her first trip to Majorca in 1986, Pilar Eyre alleges Diana told her bodyguard Ken Wharfe that Juan Carlos fancied her. Apparently, the king made all sorts of excuses to get tactile with her and used to love bending down with her and inviting her to stroke his old German shepherd dog, Archie.
Another royal biographer, Lady Colin Campbell, has long insisted that Princess Diana and King Juan Carlos embarked on an affair while on a cruise with their spouses in August 1986, and that they took up with each other again the following summer.
“Diana did it to make Charles jealous, but it didn’t work,” says Lady Colin. “Charles couldn’t have cared less.”
According to Pilar Eyre, rumors of the affair intensified later over the curious case of some photos of Diana in a state of undress. These were touted around the world’s publications, only to be taken off the market when someone in Spain paid $45,000 for them. That someone is rumored to have been Juan Carlos, who wanted to protect the Princess’s reputation.
But why rake all this up now? Diana is long since dead, while Juan Carlos, though he retains an eye for a pretty woman, has made it quite plain that he would never divorce his wife, with whom he has three children and eight grandchildren.
Pilar Eyre says she has revealed it for Queen Sofia’s sake.
“In a macho country like Spain, the king’s womanizing image makes him very popular,” Pilar Eyre says.
“Even the women don’t reproach him. On the contrary, they love him because he has such a seductive manner with them. But they don’t feel the same about poor Queen Sofia.
“She is seen as a cold, aloof foreigner. I wanted to show what she has had to put up with.”
Pilar Eyre says she tried hard to find out whether the Queen might also have had lovers in her time, but could come up with nothing.
Though as a young woman she had caught the eye of the Duke of Kent – first cousin to Queen Elizabeth – the Duke then fell in love with the Englishwoman he married, Kathleen Worsley.
Sofia dutifully entered into an arranged marriage in 1962, having met the highly eligible Juan Carlos on a cruise specially convened to introduce Europe’s young royals to each other.
By 1968, they had two daughters and Crown Prince Felipe. But though Sofia had fallen deeply in love with her husband, Pilar Eyre says Juan Carlos was still playing the field.
And by 1975, when he finally came to the Spanish throne after the death of the dictator General Franco, the new Queen was nursing a great sadness. For by then the royal couple was more or less estranged as a result of the king’s persistent womanizing.
According to the book, one of Sofia’s greatest humiliations happened a couple of months after Juan Carlos became king. All of a sudden he sent for a new barber and underwent such a transformation Sofia was convinced he was sprucing himself up for a lover.
A few days later the king packed his suitcase and said he was going hunting near Toledo.
“It’s an all-male outing; you’d be bored,” the king told his wife. Unwisely, Queen Sofia decided to surprise him by arriving at the estate in the middle of the night with their children, the eldest of whom was 12.
Queen Sofia burst through the door, brushed past the servants and, taking the stairs two at a time, discovered her husband in flagrante with an unknown woman. But even being caught by his entire family did not encourage the king to mend his ways.
Pilar Eyre says that throughout her reign, Queen Sofia has consequently been forced to content herself with a life of duty in Madrid, leavened by shopping trips with her daughters and occasional visits to England to visit her brother Constantine, the ex-King of Greece, who has lived in London since he was booted off the throne in 1973.
Lately Queen Sofia has taken solace in religion. She goes to Roman Catholic Mass every Sunday in the palace and attends Madrid’s Greek Orthodox church as well. Her devotions seem to annoy Juan Carlos even more.
King Juan Carlos raised his voice to his mother-in-law, Queen Federica of Greece, when he heard her telling her daughter how the Virgin Mary had appeared before her in a vision in a church near Madrid.
“There was an intense light and peace!” said Federica, at which point the king shouted: “Shut up, you! Don’t fill her head with this nonsense, she will believe it all.”
The tragedy is that despite his behavior, Queen Sofia appears to be as captivated by her husband as she was when they married 40 years ago.
At a recent family funeral Queen Sofia was seen holding tight to him and sobbing on his shoulder as if they were still the closest of companions.
Whether the book will rehabilitate Sofia in the eyes of the Spaniards or merely add to the prestige of Juan Carlos remains to be seen.
Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, is a serial womanizer who once made a pass at Princess Diana while she was on holiday with Prince Charles, a new book has claimed.
“The Solitude of the Queen” by Pilar Eyre also alleges that King Juan Carlos is a “professional seducer” who has had numerous affairs and has not shared a bed with his wife for the past 35 years.
The book reveals that age has not stopped King Juan Carlos, 74, with the monarch regularly receiving vitamin injections and anti-ageing treatments.
“The Solitude of the Queen”, which is likely to prove controversial in the Catholic country, claims the king made a “tactile” advance to Diana while she and Charles were on holiday in Majorca in the 1980’s.
It follows much-derided allegations made in 2004 by Lady Colin Campbell that the princess had a fling with Juan Carlos while on a cruise in August 1986 and then again the following April.
“The Solitude of the Queen” by Pilar Eyre claims King Juan Carlos made a “tactile” advance to Diana while she and Charles were on holiday in Majorca in the 1980's
During a 1987 visit, in which Charles and Diana went to Madrid, King Juan Carlos was pictured smiling as he kissed the princess on the hand – a gesture which left Diana looking embarrassed.
Pilar Eyre’s book also alleges that Queen Sofia has not slept in the marital bed since 1976 and only remains in the marriage out of “a sense of duty”.
The writer even claims the queen stumbled upon her husband with one of his alleged lovers, the Spanish film star Sara Montiel, at a friend’s country house in Toledo in 1976.
Queen Sofia, now 73, was forced to attend a football match the day afterwards “as protocol demanded”, before storming out of the Zarzuela Palace, their official residence, with her children.
Advised to stay with her husband, Queen Sofia was told a break-up would mean she would “end up being paid to liven up the parties of the newly rich”.
Pilar Eyre added: “The role of the queen is sad, she is the loneliest woman in Spain.”
The writer also told Spanish gossip magazine Vanitatis: “Queen Sofia is a woman betrayed and hurt with a married life that has been a real tragedy. The king’s closest friends I have spoken to say they don’t like her.”
And she alleges that, as recently as last year, when the monarch was recovering from the removal of a benign lung tumour, he was seeing a 25-year-old German translator.
After writing the book, Pilar Eyre was informed she would no longer appear on Spanish TV channel Telecinco.
Pilar Eyre said she was told: “The station has banned talk about your book and does not allow you to continue working. You are banned, Pilar, we are sorry.”