Profession: King of Spain
Why Famous: Born in Rome during his family's exile, Juan Carlos was named as the successor to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco over his father. He became the King on 22 November 1975 after Franco's death two days earlier, and the monarchy was thus restored.
Though he was expected by many to continue Franco's fascist and dictatorial policies, Juan Carlos is instead credited with beginning and supporting the Spanish transition to democracy, which culminated in a general election in 1977 and a new constitution in 1978. An attempted coup was put down by the King in 1981.
Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 after a series of scandals surrounding him and his family, particularly an extravagant elephant hunting trip to Botswana in the middle of a severe recession in Spain, which significantly damaged his popularity and legitimacy. He was succeeded by his son, Felipe VI.
- 1962-05-14 Princess Sophia of Greece weds Don Juan Carlos of Spain
- 1975-11-22 Juan Carlos I proclaimed King of Spain as monarchy restored after 31 years
- 1981-02-23 "Tejerazo" Spanish coup led by Civil Guard officer Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero Molina fails after televised speech by King Juan Carlos I
- 2014-06-18 King Juan Carlos I of Spain abdicates the Spanish throne to make way for his son Felipe VI