56 Facts About Juan Carlos


Juan Carlos I is a member of the Spanish royal family who reigned as King of Spain from 22 November 1975 until his abdication on 19 June 2014.

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Juan Carlos is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent declaration of the Second Spanish Republic.

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Juan Carlos was born in Rome during his family's exile.

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Juan Carlos spent his early years in Italy and came to Spain in 1947 to continue his studies.

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In 1962, Juan Carlos married Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark in Athens.

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Franco died in November the following year and Juan Carlos became king on 22 November 1975, two days after Franco's death, the first reigning monarch since 1931, although his exiled father did not formally renounce his claims to the throne in favor of his son until 1977.

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However, Juan Carlos introduced reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime and to begin the Spanish transition to democracy soon after his accession.

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In 1981, Juan Carlos played a major role in preventing a coup that attempted to revert Spain to Francoist government in the King's name.

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In June 2014, Juan Carlos, citing personal reasons, abdicated in favour of his son, who acceded to the throne as Felipe VI.

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Since August 2020, Juan Carlos has lived in self-imposed exile from Spain over allegedly improper ties to business deals in Saudi Arabia.

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Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria was born to Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona, and Princess Maria de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies in their family home in Rome, where his grandfather King Alfonso XIII of Spain and other members of the Spanish royal family lived in exile following the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931.

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Juan Carlos was baptized as Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria de Borbon y Borbon-Dos Sicilias by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.

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Juan Carlos moved to Spain in 1948 to be educated there after his father persuaded Franco to allow it.

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Juan Carlos began his studies in San Sebastian and finished them in 1954 at the Instituto San Isidro in Madrid.

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Juan Carlos then joined the army, doing his officer training from 1955 to 1957 at the Military Academy of Zaragoza.

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Juan Carlos was always known in his familiar circle simply as "Juan" or "Juanito".

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Alfonso had won a local junior golf tournament earlier in the day, then went to evening Mass and rushed up to the room to see Juan Carlos who had come home for the Easter holidays from military school.

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Bernardo Arnoso, a Portuguese friend of Juan Carlos, said that Juan Carlos had told him he had fired the pistol not knowing that it was loaded, and adding that the bullet ricocheted off a wall, hitting Alfonso in the face.

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In 1957, Juan Carlos spent a year in the naval school at Marin, Pontevedra, and another in the Air Force school in San Javier in Murcia.

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Juan Carlos then went to live in the Palace of Zarzuela and began carrying out official engagements.

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Juan Carlos was married in Athens on 14 May 1962, to Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark, daughter of King Paul of Greece, firstly in a Roman Catholic ceremony at the Church of St Denis, followed by a Greek Orthodox ceremony at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens.

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At the time, the heir to the throne of Spain was Infante Juan Carlos, Count of Barcelona, the son of the late Alfonso XIII.

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In 1969, Juan Carlos was officially designated heir-apparent and was given the new title of Prince of Spain .

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Juan Carlos's choice was ratified by the Spanish parliament on 22 July 1969.

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Juan Carlos met and consulted Franco many times while heir apparent and often took part in official and ceremonial state functions, standing alongside the dictator, much to the anger of hardline republicans and more moderate liberals, who hoped that Franco's death would bring in an era of reform.

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Juan Carlos continued to praise Franco and his government for the economic growth and positive changes in Spain.

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However, as the years progressed, Juan Carlos began meeting secretly with political opposition leaders and exiles, who were fighting to bring liberal reform to the country.

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Juan Carlos had secret conversations with his father over the telephone.

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Juan Carlos swore using the following formula: "I swear to God and the Gospels to comply and enforce compliance to the Fundamental Laws of the Realm and to remain loyal to the Principles of the National Movement".

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Juan Carlos quickly instituted reforms, to the great displeasure of Falangist and conservative elements, especially in the military, who had expected him to maintain the authoritarian state.

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In July 1976, Juan Carlos dismissed prime minister Carlos Arias Navarro, who had been attempting to continue Francoist policies in the face of the King's attempts at democratization.

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Juan Carlos instead appointed Adolfo Suarez, a former leader of the Movimiento Nacional, as prime minister, who went on to win the following year's election and become the first democratically elected leader of the new regime.

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Left-wing support for the monarchy grew when the Communist Party of Spain was legalized shortly thereafter, a move Juan Carlos had pressed for, despite enormous right-wing military opposition at that time, during the Cold War.

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When Juan Carlos became king, Communist leader Santiago Carrillo nicknamed him Juan Carlos the Brief, predicting that the monarchy would soon be swept away with the other remnants of the Franco era.

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Juan Carlos's administration helped consolidate Spanish democracy and thus maintained the stability of the nation.

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Juan Carlos was the guardian of the Constitution and was responsible for ensuring that it was obeyed.

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Juan Carlos is the commander-in-chief of the Spanish armed forces.

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In October 1990, Juan Carlos visited the Chilean city of Valdivia amidst the beginning of the Chilean transition to democracy.

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In July 2000, Juan Carlos was the target of an enraged protester when former priest Juan Maria Fernandez y Krohn, who had once attacked Pope John Paul II, breached security and attempted to approach the king.

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Cayo Lara Moya of the United Left party said the King's trip "demonstrated a lack of ethics and respect toward many people in this country who are suffering a lot" while Tomas Gomez of the Socialist party said Juan Carlos should choose between "public responsibilities or an abdication".

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Up until the Botswana elephant trip, Juan Carlos had enjoyed a high level of shielding from media scrutiny, described as "rare among Western leaders".

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Juan Carlos was the fourth European monarch to abdicate in just over a year, following Pope Benedict XVI, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and King Albert II of Belgium .

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Juan Carlos continued to have a role as institutional representative.

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In December 2015, Juan Carlos attended the inauguration of Mauricio Macri as President of Argentina as top Spanish representative.

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Juan Carlos announced by a letter to his son Felipe that his intention to retire from public life on 2 June 2019.

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Sayn-Wittgenstein claimed that Juan Carlos received kick-backs from commercial contracts in the Gulf States – particularly in the late-2000s construction of the €6.

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The allegations drew demands for Juan Carlos to be investigated for corruption in early June 2019.

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Juan Carlos appears to have drawn down funds from the Zagatka foundation to spend €8 million between 2009 and 2018 on private flights, with Air Partner receiving around €6.

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Zagatka used commissions due to Juan Carlos and paid to Zagatka to invest millions, mainly in Ibex35 companies between 2003 and 2018.

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On 25 February 2021, Juan Carlos paid 4 million euros to the Spanish Tax Agency to avoid new tax offenses in relation with these flights.

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On 3 August 2020, the Palace of Zarzuela announced Juan Carlos wished to relocate from Spain because of increased media press about his business dealings in Saudi Arabia and left a letter to his son saying so.

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Juan Carlos is the alleged father of Alberto Sola Jimenez, born in Barcelona in 1956, of a woman born in Catalonia in 1964, and of Ingrid Sartiau, a Belgian woman born in 1966 who has filed a paternity suit, but complete sovereign immunity prevented that suit prior to his abdication.

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Juan Carlos had several extramarital affairs, which adversely affected his marriage.

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Juan Carlos is a member of the World Scout Foundation and of the Sons of the American Revolution.

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Juan Carlos underwent a hip operation in September 2013 at Madrid's Quiron hospital.

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In 1969, Juan Carlos was named as General Franco's successor and was given the title of 'Prince of Spain'.

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