Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says King Juan Carlos plans to abdicate and pave the way for his son, Crown Prince Felipe, to become the country's next king.
The 76-year-old Juan Carlos oversaw his country's transition from dictatorship to democracy but has had repeated health problems in recent years.
His popularity also dipped following royal scandals, including an elephant-shooting trip he took in the middle of Spain's financial crisis that tarnished the monarch's image. The king came to power in 1975, two days after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. (AP)