King Juan Carlos’s decision to relinquish the throne in favor of his son Felipe will have some legal consequences for himself and his immediate family.
On the day that he signs the abdication document, Juan Carlos will lose the immunity he enjoys as head of state, and that privilege will be passed on to the new monarch, Felipe VI.
Also on that day, his daughters Elena and Cristina will no longer be a part of the royal family per se, but rather relatives of the king with no representation duties at official events. Cristina has been absent from the royal agenda since December 2011, when her husband Iñaki Urdangarin became involved in an embezzlement investigation.
The royal family will then comprise six members: Felipe, his wife Letizia, their daughters Leonor and Sofía, and the former monarchs Juan Carlos and Sofía, said sources at the royal palace.
Cristina has been missing from the royal agenda since late 2011
Although in theory Juan Carlos will be liable for prosecution just like anyone else, Congress could decide to grant him a special aforado status, whose recipients can only be tried by a higher court.
Don Juan Carlos and his son Felipe were seen together in public on Tuesday, a day after the abdication announcement, at a military ceremony in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Juan Carlos remains head of the armed forces until the handover.
A small group of pro-monarchy enthusiasts cheered the incoming and outgoing monarchs at the event.
“I am very happy. The king has done a very good job. I think the abdication could not be helped,” said a woman named Carmen. “We already had a Philip the Fair, and now we are going to have a Philip the Great.”
Don Felipe will deliver his first address following his father’s announcement in Navarre on Wednesday.