Spain sets its future King Felipe VI on the path to the throne Tuesday, launching an unprecedented, possibly weeks-long handover of the crown in an economically troubled, divided realm.
A day after King Juan Carlos announced he is ending a 39-year reign that guided Spain from dictatorship to democracy, the government begins the process of replacing the monarch for the first time in its post-Franco history.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy presides over an extraordinary cabinet meeting at midday (1000 GMT) to draw up a draft abdication law, which must then be approved by parliament.

The law, which could take four weeks to be approved according to Spanish media, will draw the curtain on the 76-year-old king’s rule, dogged by scandals in the twilight of his reign.

At the same time, it will clear the throne for his son, Crown Prince Felipe, a six foot six inch- (1.98-metre) tall former Olympic yachtsman, and for his future queen Letizia, a glamourous former television news presenter.

In a televised address to the nation, Juan Carlos said the economic crisis had awakened a “desire for renewal, to overcome and correct mistakes and open the way to a decidedly better future”.

“Today a younger generation deserves to step into the front line, with new energies,” said the monarch, looking relaxed in a grey suit and green tie. “For all these reasons… I have decided to end my reign.”

Juan Carlos was widely respected for smoothing Spain’s transition to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, most famously facing down an attempted military coup in February 1981.

But gaffes and family scandals later slashed his popularity.

Many Spaniards were outraged when they discovered the king took a luxury elephant-hunting trip to Botswana in 2012 as they struggled to find jobs in a recession.

Resentment over the monarchy grew when the king’s elder daughter Cristina was named a suspect in relation to her husband Inaki Urdangarin’s allegedly corrupt business practices… see more

source: ahram online