Spanish King Juan Carlos Abdicates, Sets Social Media Alight

The country's media organizations go into overdrive as his resignation after 39 years paves the way for son Felipe, whose wife used to host a big news show, to become king.

MADRID -- Spain's King Juan Carlos I abdicated on Monday after 39 years on the throne, after steering the country from a dictatorship after General Francisco Franco's death to a vibrant democracy.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the king's intention to leave his role in an urgent "institutional declaration," saying the 76-year-old monarch would detail his reasons in a speech later.

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The king, who has suffered waning health and a dip in popularity following a series of corruption scandals involving his son-in-law, plans to hand the throne to his 46-year-old son, Prince Felipe.

Juan Carlos quickly became one of the top trending topics on Twitter on Monday.

Spanish media offered wall-to-wall coverage of the unexpected announcement throughout the morning, with TV networks airing the latest updates along with historic footage of the king and archived interviews.

Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia, a former anchorwoman for a nightly news show on Spain's public broadcaster, are constants in the Spanish tabloids, similar to Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The glamorous couple has two young girls. But it remains to be seen if Spain is prepared to extend to them the generosity that Juan Carlos got in gratitude for his historic role.