With a delay of half-an-hour, King Juan Carlos appeared on Spanish television at 1pm on Monday, just hours after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that the monarch was to abdicate. What appears below is an edited translation of his full speech.
“When I was proclaimed king, nearly four decades ago, I took on a firm commitment to serve Spain’s general interest, moved by the desire to make citizens the agents of their own destinies and for our nation to become a modern democracy, one that was fully integrated into Europe.
“I proposed leading the exciting national task of allowing citizens to choose their legitimate representatives and to carry out the great, positive transformation that we all needed so much.
“Today, when I look back, I cannot help feeling proud and grateful to you.
“Proud because of the many good things we have achieved together throughout the years.
“And grateful for your support, which has made my reign – which I began as a young man at a time of great uncertainty and difficulty – a long period of peace, freedom, stability and progress.
“Loyal to the political wishes of my father, from whom I inherited the historical legacy of the Spanish monarchy, I have always wanted to be a king for all Spaniards. I identified with your aspirations, felt joy at your successes and suffered when pain or suffering overwhelmed you.”
In a speech that made a point of expressing hope in the future, Juan Carlos nevertheless made a reference to the crisis and its effects.
“The long, deep economic recession we are enduring has left serious scars in the social fabric, but it is also pointing out a future path that is filled with hope.
“These difficult years have enabled us to do some critical stocktaking to analyze our mistakes and limitations as a society.
“On the other hand, they have also reactivated the proud awareness of what we have been and continue to be: a great nation. All of this has awakened within us a desire for renewal, for self-improvement, for correcting our mistakes and for paving the way to a decidedly better future.
“A new generation is legitimately demanding a central role in the forging of this future. A younger generation with new energy has the determination to undertake the transformation and reforms demanded by the current situation.
“My sole ambition has always been, and always will be, to help attain progress and wellbeing for all Spaniards in a climate of freedom.
“I want the best for Spain, to which I have dedicated my entire life and at whose service I have placed all my ability, my enthusiasm and my work.
“My son Felipe, Prince of Asturias and heir to the Crown, embodies the stability that is a defining feature of our monarchy.
“When I turned 76 last January, I felt that the time had come to prepare the handover to make way for someone who is in the best possible conditions to maintain that stability.
“The Prince of Asturias has the maturity, training and sense of responsibility that are necessary to fully guarantee his position as head of state and begin a new period of hope that combines acquired experience with the thrust of a new generation.
“I am sure he will always be able to count on the support of Princess Letizia.
“And so, guided by the firm belief that I am doing the best service to Spaniards, and now that I have recovered physically and gone back to my institutional activities, I have decided to bring my reign to an end and abdicate the Spanish crown.
“I wish to express my gratitude to the Spanish people, to all the individuals who have embodied the state’s powers and agencies during my reign, and everyone who has generously and loyally helped me perform my duties.
“My gratitude also goes out to Queen Sofia, whose cooperation and generous support have never failed me.
“Spain will always be in my heart.”