King Juan Carlos I Fast Facts




Here’s a look at the life of the former King of Spain.

Birth date: January 5, 1938

Birth place: Rome, Italy

Birth name: Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria de Borbon y Borbon

Father: Don Juan de Borbon y Battenburg, Count of Barcelona, third son of King Alfonso XIII of Spain

Mother: Dona Maria de las Mercedes de Borbon y Orleans, Princess of the Two Sicilies and Countess of Barcelona

Marriage: Princess Sofia of Greece (May 14, 1962-present)

Children: Infanta Elena of Spain, Elena Maria, Isabel, Dominica de Silos de Borbon y Grecia, Duchess of Lugo, December 1963; Infanta Cristina of Asturias, Cristina Federica Victoria Antonia de la Santísima Trinidad de Borbón y Grecia, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, June 1965; Prince of the Asturias, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso y de la Santísima Trinidad y de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia, January 1968

Education: Marianist, Fribourg, Switzerland; Instituto San Isidro, Madrid, Spain; Navy Orphans’ College, Spain; Saragossa Military Academy, Saragossa, Spain; Naval College, Marin, Spain; Spanish Air Academy, San Javier, Spain; University of Madrid, Spain

Military: Spanish Army, Spanish Navy, Spanish Air Force

The Spanish Royal Family pays income taxes by constitutional provision and lives in a converted hunting lodge, Zarzuela Palace, by choice.

The Palacio Real, the Royal Palace, in Madrid is used for formal events such as visits from heads of state.

First visited the United States in 1958, during training as a naval midshipman aboard the Juan Sebastian Elcano.

Great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, distant cousin to both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Both King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are descendants of Queen Victoria.

Distant relative of fifteenth century’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.

1947 – Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s Law of Succession declares the Spanish royal family will be restored to power upon his death.

1948 – Makes first trip to Spain, after Franco and Don Juan de Borbon agree to a Spanish education for the heir apparent.

1960 – Completes military training and becomes the first Spanish officer to hold the rank of lieutenant in all three branches of the military.

August 1962 – During his honeymoon, visits the United States and meets US President John F. Kennedy.

1969 – Invested as crown prince and designated as Franco’s successor.

November 22, 1975 – Crowned Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, two days after the death of Franco and restores the Spanish monarchy after a 44-year interregnum.

June 1-4, 1976 – First reigning Spanish monarch to visit the United States. He meets with US President Gerald Ford.

1977 – Enacts political reforms that lead to the first democratic election since 1936.

1978 – Adoption of a new constitution gives the monarchy more than a titular or ceremonial role in the government.

February 1981 – An attempted coup is blocked when forces loyal to the King refuse to join the rebellion.

2000 – Celebrates his 25th anniversary on the throne.

March 11, 2004 – Addresses the nation and visits the wounded after 10 bombs go off on four commuter trains during rush hour in Madrid.

November 10, 2007 – Tells Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, “Why don’t you shut up?” (¿Por qué no te callas?), during the Ibero-American summit in Santiago, Chile.

May 8, 2010 – Has a growth removed from his right lung, which turns out to be benign.

August 8, 2010 – With Queen Sofia, hosts US First Lady Michelle Obama and her youngest daughter, Sasha, at the summer palace on Mallorca Island.

April 14, 2012 – Undergoes hip replacement surgery after falling during a trip to Botswana. He is readmitted later in the month to “”reduce a dislocation” of the hip. He undergoes another surgery for his hip in November 2012.

July 2012 – Is dropped as honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Spain after his April elephant hunting trip in Botswana is widely criticized. “Although not illegal, the hunting was widely viewed as incompatible with the King’s position at the head of WWF-Spain,” the group said in a statement. He had held the honorary post since 1968.

March 3, 2013 – Is hospitalized for surgery on herniated discs. While he is recovering, a small fire breaks out at the hospital but he is not affected.

September 2013 – Undergoes a third hip surgery in Madrid to replace the infected joint..

June 2, 2014 – Announces that he is abdicating in favor of his son Prince Felipe.

June 18, 2014 – Formally abdicates.

January 14, 2015 – A 12 judge panel rules Juan Carlos must face a paternity lawsuit – by a Belgian woman alleging that he’s her father – before the nation’s Supreme Court. Ingrid Sartiau, from Brussels, alleges that her mother and Juan Carlos had a relationship in late 1965, and she was born, as a result, in August 1966. At that time, Juan Carlos was married but still a prince.

March 11, 2015 – Spain’s Supreme Court dismisses the paternity suit against Juan Carlos.

November 29, 2016 – Attends the memorial service for former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

June 2, 2019 – Officially retires from public life.

June 8, 2020 – Spain’s Supreme Court announces an investigation into Juan Carlos for possible crimes involving an alleged 2008 transfer of $100 million from the Saudi king for a high-speed rail project in Saudi Arabia.

August 3, 2020 – Leaves Spain amid scrutiny of alleged financial dealings. In a letter to his son, King Felipe VI, Juan Carlos writes that he made the decision to leave “in the face of the public repercussion that certain past events of my private life are generating.”


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