King of spain

"King of Spain" redirects here. For other uses, see King of Spain (disambiguation).

Template:Infobox Monarchy The Monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown and commonly referred to as the Spanish Monarchy or Hispanic Monarchy,[1] is a constitutional institution and a historic office of Spain.[2] The monarchy comprises a reigning King or Queen of Spain, their family, and the royal household organization which supports and facilitates the monarch in the exercise of his royal duties and prerogatives.[3][4][5] The monarchy is currently represented by King Juan Carlos I, his wife Queen Sofia, and their children and grandchildren.[3][5] Opinion polls routinely reveal that the monarchy remains popular by a wide majority of citizens in contemporary Spain,[6] with as many as 75% of Spanish citizens ranking the monarchy above any other public institution in the country.[7] In 2010, the budget for the Spanish monarchy was 7.4 million euros, one of the lowest public expenditures for the institution of monarchy in Europe.[8][9]

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 reestablished[2][10] a constitutional monarchy as the form of government for Spain. The 1978 constitution affirmed the role of the King of Spain as the personification and embodiment of the Spanish State and a symbol of Spain's enduring unity and permanence.[3][11] Constitutionally, the king is the head-of-state and commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces.[3][11] The constitution codifies the use of royal styles and titulary, royal prerogatives, hereditary succession to the crown, compensation, and a regency-guardianship contingency in cases of the monarch's minority or incapacitation.[3][11] According to the constitution, the monarch is also instrumental in promoting Ibero-American relations, the "nations of its historical community".[3][11] In this capacity, the King of Spain serves as the president of the Ibero-American States Organization, purportedly representing over 700,000,000 people in twenty-four member nations worldwide. In 2008, Juan Carlos I was considered the most popular leader in all Ibero-America.[7][12]

The Spanish monarchy has its roots in the Visigothic Kingdom founded in Spain and Aquitainia[13] in the 5th century, and its Christian successor states which fought the Reconquista following the Umayyad invasion of Hispania in the 8th century. A dynastic marriage between Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon united Spain in the 15th century. The Spanish Empire became one of the first global powers as Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand funded Christopher Columbus's exploratory voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. This led to the rediscovery of America by Europeans, which became the focus of Spanish colonization.


The Kingdom of Spain has its roots in the Visigothic Kingdom and its Christian successor states of Navarra, Asturias and Aragon, which fought the Reconquista or Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula following the Umayyad invasion of Hispania in the 8th century. One of the earliest influential dynasties was the House of Jiménez which united much of Christian Iberia under its leadership in the 11th century. From Sancho III of Navarre (r. 1000-1035) until Urraca of León and Castile (r.1106-1125), members of the Jiménez family claimed the historic Visigothic title Imperator totius Hispaniae or Emperor of All Spain. The Jiménez rulers sought to bring their kingdoms into the European mainstream and often engaged in cross-Pyrenees alliances and marriages, and became patrons to Cluniac Reforms (c. 950–c.1130). Uracca's son and heir Alfonso VII of León and Castile, the first of the Spanish branch of the Burgundy Family, was the last to claim the imperial title of Spain, but divided his empire among his sons. The Castilian Civil War (1366 to 1369) ended with the death of King Peter (r. 1334-1369) at the hands of his illegitimate half-brother Henry, 1st Count of Trastámara who ruled as Henry II (r. 1369–1379). Henry II became the first of the House of Trastámara to rule over a Spanish kingdom. King Peter's heiress, his granddaughter Catherine of Lancaster, married Henry III, reuniting the dynasties in the person of their son, King John II.

In the 15th century, the marriage between Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, both members of the House of Trastámara, known as the Catholic Monarchs, united most of the Iberian peninsula. In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs conquered the Kingdom of Granada in southern Spain, the last moorish territory in the Iberian peninsula. This date marks the unification of Spain.

In the early 16th century, the Spanish monarchy controlled several territories in Europe under the Habsburg King Charles I (also Holy Roman Emperor as Charles V), son of Queen Joanna of Castile. His reign ushered in the Spanish Golden Age (1492–1659) a period of great colonial expansion and trade. In 1700, Charles II, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, designated his sister Maria Theresa's grandson, Philip of France, Duke of Anjou, as his heir. The possible unification of Spain with France sparked the Spanish War of Succession in the 18th century, culminating in the treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714) which preserved the European balance of power. Philip V was the first member of the House of Bourbon (Spanish: Borbón) to rule Spain, the dynasty that still rules today under Juan Carlos I.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte forced Ferdinand VII to abdicate in 1808 and the Bourbons became a focus of popular resistance against French rule. However, Ferdinand's rejection of the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812, his ministerial appointments, particularly the exclusion of liberals, gradually eroded popular support for the Spanish monarchy. With the Pragmatic Sanction of 1830, Ferdinand set aside the Salic Law, introduced by Philip V, that prohibited women from becoming sovereigns of Spain. Thereby, as had been customary before the arrival of the Bourbons, the Ferdinand VII's eldest daughter Isabella became his heiress presumptive. Opponents of the Pragmatic Sanction argued that it was never officially promulgated, claiming Ferdinand VII's younger brother, Prince Carlos, the rightful heir to the crown according to the Salic Law.

Thus began a series of civil wars known as the Carlist Wars, named after the Carlists, who supported Prince Carlos' claim. Queen Isabel II, whose main support came from centrists and moderates, was beset by Carlisti forces on the extreme right and radicals on the extreme left. Faced with these challenges, Isabel's rule became increasingly reactionary in her dealings with the polarized Cortes, and her authoritarian rule became increasingly dependent on the army. Isabella II's reliance on the military eroded her popular support from the moderates and centrists until 1868 when she was forced to abdicate. In September 1873 the First Spanish Republic was founded.

A coup d'état restored the Borbón dynasty to the throne in 1874. However, in 1931 local and municipal elections produced victories (particularly in urban areas) for candidates favoring an end to the monarchy and the establishment of a republic. Faced with unrest in the cities, Alfonso XIII went into exile, but did not abdicate. The ensuing provisional government evolved into the relatively short-lived Second Spanish Republic. The Spanish Civil War began in 1936 and ended on 1 April 1939 with the victory of General Francisco Franco and his coalition of allied organizations commonly referred to as the Nationalists.

General Franco ruled Spain as Regent to the King of Spain. However, without a king on the throne, he ruled through a coalition of allied organizations from the Spanish Civil War including, but not limited to, the Falange political party, the supporters of the Borbon royal family, and the Carlists, until his death in 1975. Despite Franco's alliance with the Carlists, Franco appointed Juan Carlos I de Borbón as his successor, who is credited with presiding over Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy by fully endorsing political reforms.

Impatient with the pace of democratic reforms, the new king, known for his formidable personality, dismissed Carlos Arias Navarro and appointed the reformer Adolfo Suárez as President of the Government in 1977.[14][15]

The next year the king signed into law the new liberal democratic Constitution of Spain, which was approved by 88% of voters. Juan Carlos' "quick wit and steady nerve" cut short the attempted military coup in 1981 when the king used a specially designed command communications center in the Zarzuela Palace to denounce the coup and command the military's eleven captain-generals to stand down.[16]

Following the events of 1981, Juan Carlos has led a less eventful life, according to author John Hooper.[16] The king does not preside over ceremonies such as the opening of hospitals and bridges as often as monarchs in other nations. Instead, he has worked towards establishing reliable political customs when transitioning one government administration to another, emphasizing constitutional law and protocol, and representing the Spanish State domestically and internationally, all the while maintaining a professionally non-partisan yet independent monarchy.[7][16]

The Crown, constitution, and royal prerogatives

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The historic Crown of Spain, (la Corona de España) with its roots in the Visigothic kingdom from the 5th century and subsequent successor states, is recognized in Title II The Crown, Articles 56 through 65 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.[2] Constitutionally the monarch embodies and personifies the unity and permanace of the Spanish State, and represents the legal personality of the State and by extension fulfills the role of "Father of the Nation". As a unifying figure for the nation, in 2010 King Juan Carlos worked towards "bridging the gap" between Spain’s rival polarized political parties to develop a unified strategy in response to the country’s on-going late-2000s economic crisis.[7]

According to the Spanish Constitution voted in referendum, the sovereignty power emanates from the people, so it's the very same people who give the king the power to reign:[3][5]

National sovereignty belongs to the Spanish people, from whom all State powers emanate.
—Title I, Article 2, the Spanish Constitution of 1978[17]

The monarch "arbitrates and moderates the regular functioning of the institutions" and assumes the highest representation of the Spanish State in international relations.[2] The monarch exercises the functions expressly conferred on him by the constitution and the laws.[3][5]

The King is Head of State, the symbol of its unity and permanence. He arbitrates and moderates the regular functioning of the institutions, assumes the highest representation of the Spanish State in international relations, especially with the nations of its historical community, and exercises the functions expressly conferred on him by the Constitution and the laws.
—Title II the Crown, Article 56, the Spanish Constitution of 1978[18]

Upon accession to the crown and being proclaimed before the Cortes Generales, the king swears an oath to faithfully carry out his constitutional duties and to abide by the constitution and laws of the state. Additionally, the constitution gives the king the added responsibility to ensure that the constitution is obeyed. Lastly, the king swears to respect the rights of Spanish citizens and of the self-governing communities. The Prince of Asturias, upon reaching the age of majority, in addition to any regent(s) upon assuming the office, swears the same oath as that of the king along with a further oath of loyalty to the monarch.

(1) The King, on being proclaimed before the Cortes Generales, will swear to faithfully carry out his duties, to obey the Constitution and the laws and ensure that they are obeyed, and to respect the rights of the citizens and the Self-governing Communities (2) The Crown Prince, on coming of age, and the Regent or Regents, on assuming office, will swear the same oath as well as that of loyalty to the King.
—Title II The Crown, Article 61, the Spanish Constitution of 1978

The oath reads as follows: Template:Cquote

The 1978 Constitution, Title II The Crown, Article 62, delineates the powers of the king, while Title IV Government and Administration, Article 99, defines the king's role in government.[3][5][19] Title VI Judicial Power, Article 117, Articles 122 through 124, outlines the king's role in the country's independent judiciary.[20] However, by constitutional convention established by Juan Carlos I, the king exercises his prerogatives having solicited government advice while maintaining a politically non-partisan and independent monarchy. Receiving government advice does not necessarily bind the monarch into executing the advice, except where prescribed by the constitution.

It is incumbent upon the King:

  • a. To Sanction and promulgate the laws
  • b. To summon and dissolve the Cortes Generales and to call for elections under the terms provided for in the Constitution.
  • c. To Call for a referendum in the cases provided for in the Constitution.
  • e. To appoint and dismiss members of the Government on the President of the Government's proposal.
  • f. To issue the decrees approved in the Council of Ministers, to confer civil and military honours and distinctions in conformity with the law.
  • g. To be informed of the affairs of State and, for this purpose, to preside over the meetings of the Council of Ministers whenever, he sees fit, at the President of the Government's request.
  • h. To exercise supreme command of the Armed Forces
  • i. To exercise the right of clemency in accordance with the law, which may not authorize general pardons.
  • j. To exercise the High Patronage of the Royal Academies.
    —Title II The Crown, Article 62, the Spanish Constitution of 1978[3][5]

Styles, titles, and the 'Fount of Honour'

The 1978 constitution confirms the title of the monarch is King of Spain, but that he may also use other titles historically associated with the Crown.[3][5][21] The titles used by Alfonso XIII before his exile in 1931 which, with this provision of the constitution, the king is entitled to use include:

His Catholic Majesty, the King of Spain [the Spains], King of Castile, of León, of Aragon, of the Two Sicilies, of Jerusalem, of Navarre, of Granada, of Seville, of Toledo, of Valencia, of Galicia, of Sardinia, of Córdoba, of Corsica, of Murcia, of Jaén, of the Algarves, of Algeciras, of Gibraltar, of the Canary Islands, of the East and West Indies, of the Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea; Archduke of Austria; Duke of Burgundy, of Brabant, of Milan, of Athens and Neopatria; Count of Habsburg, of Flanders, of Tyrol, of Roussillon, and of Barcelona; Lord of Biscay and of Molina de Aragón; Captain General and Supreme Commander of the Royal Armed Forces; Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece and of the orders awarded by the Spanish state.
—Title II The Crown, Article 56 (2), the Spanish Constitution of 1978.[3][5][21]

According to the royal decree published in 1987, the king and the queen consort will formally be addressed as "His Majesty and Her Majesty" (Their Majesties, Spanish: Su Majestad, Su represents His or Her) rather than the traditional "Catholic Majesty" (Su Católica Majestad). A prince consort of a regnant Queen of Spain will have the style "His Royal Highness" (Su Alteza Real).[5] Additionally, a widowed and unmarried queen consort, now a queen dowager, will continue to be addressed as "Her Majesty".[5] A widowed and unmarried prince consort will continue to be addressed as "His Royal Highness".[5] The heir from birth shall hold the title of Prince of Asturias and the other titles historically associated with the heir apparent.[3][5] These additional titles include Prince of Viana, historically associated with the heir apparent to the Kingdom of Navarre; with the titles Prince of Girona and Duke of Montblanc historically associated with the heir apparent for the Crown of Aragon, among others. Other children of the monarch, and the children of the heir apparent, shall have the title and rank of Infante or Infanta (prince or princess), and styled His or Her Royal Highness (Su Alteza Real).[5] Children of an Infante or Infanta of Spain "shall have the consideration of Spanish Grandees", and the address of "Your Excellency".[5] The royal decree further limits the ability of any regent to use or create titles during the minority or incapacitation of a monarch.[5] No further constitutional language prescribes titles or forms of address to the fourth generation, or great grandchildren, of a reigning monarch.

The monarch's position as the "Fount of honour" within Spain is codified in Article 62 (f); It is incumbent upon the monarch to "[...] confer civil and military positions and award honors and distinctions in conformity of the law".[3][22] According to the Spanish Ministry of Justice, nobility and grandee titles are created by the "sovereign grace of the king", and may be passed on to the recipient's heirs, who may not sell the title.[22] Titles may revert to the Crown when their vacancy is observed.[22] Succession of titles may follow one of several courses listed on the Title of Concession when the title is created.[22] As a general rule, most titles are now inherited by absolute Cognatic Primogeniture (as of 2006), in which the first born inherits all titles regardless of gender. However, a title holder may designate his successor, Succession by Assignment, or disperse his titles among his children – with the eldest getting the highest-ranking title, Succession by Distribution.[22]

The king awarded peerages to two of his former prime ministers who have retired from active politics: Adolfo Suárez, who was created 1st Duke of Suárez; and Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo who was created 1st Marquess of la Ría de Ribadeo. The king's third prime minister Felipe González declined a title, while José María Aznar's tenure was mired in controversies making a peerage unlikely.[23][24][25][26] All successive politicians remain active within politics.

The king grants military and civil orders and awards of distinction, customarily on the advice of government. The most distinguished order the king may award is the Order of Charles III to "citizens who, with their effort, initiative and work, have brought a distinguished and extraordinary service to the Nation".[27][28] The Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand is Spain's highest military award for gallantry. Other historic awards and distinctions include the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece, the Order of Isabella the Catholic, the Order of Alfonso X, the Royal and Military Order of Saint Hermenegild, the Order of Saint Raimundo de Penafort, the Order of Military Merit, the Order of Naval Merit, the Order of Aerial Merit, the Order of Civil Merit, the Order of Cultural Merit, the Order of Calatrava, the Order of the Knights of Santiago, the Order of Sant Jordi d'Alfama, and the Order of Alcántara, among others.

Inviolablity and lèse majesté

The Spanish monarch is personally immune from prosecution for acts committed by government ministers in the king's name.[3][5] This legal convention mirrors the concept of sovereign immunity which evolved in similar constitutional monarchies. The legal concept of sovereign immunity evolved into other aspects of immunity law in similar liberal democracies, such as parliamentary immunity, judicial immunity, and qualified immunity in the United States.

The Person of the King of Spain is inviolable and shall not be held accountable. His acts shall always be countersigned in the manner established in section 64. Without such countersignature they shall not be valid, except as provided under section 65(2).
—Title II The Crown, Article 56, the Spanish Constitution of 1978.[3][5][29]

The concept of lèse majesté (lesa majestad) exists in Spanish jurisprudence, which is the crime or offense violating the dignity of the head-of-state or the State itself. According to Article 56 of the 1978 Constitution the monarch and the dignity of the Spanish State are one and the same: "The King is Head of State, the symbol of its unity and permanence".[3][5] Breaching Spain's lèse majesté laws may carry fines and up to two years in prison.[30] The concept is within the same legal sphere as legislation prohibiting flag desecration in other democratic countries. Additionally, lèse majesté extends to any foreign heads-of-state visiting Spain, and other members of the royal family, and to the Spanish President of the Government as the king's appointed officer.

The Spanish satirical magazine El Jueves was fined for violation of Spain's lèse majesté laws after publishing an issue with a caricature of the Prince and Princess of Asturias engaging in sexual intercourse on their cover in 2007.[31] In 2008, 400 Catalonia separatists burned images of the king and queen in Madrid,[32] and in 2009 two Galician separatists were fined for burning effigies of the king.[33]

Succession and regency

According to Article 57 the Crown of Spain is inherited by the successors of King Juan Carlos I de Borbón through male preference primogeniture[3][5] Article 57 is also significant in that it omits entirely the Franconist era designation of Juan Carlos as Franco's successor.[2] While drafting the new constitution, lawyer and liberal congressman Joaquín Satrústegui (1909–1992) insisted that the phrase the legitimate heir of the historic dynasty be included in the text to underscore that the monarchy was an historic institution predating the constitution or the prior regime.[2] Additionally, Satrústegui was "anxious to remove" notions that the constitutional monarchy had any Francoist origins, according to author Charles Powell.[2]

The Crown of Spain shall be inherited by the successors of HM Juan Carlos I de Borbón, the legitimate heir of the historic dynasty. Succession to the throne shall follow the regular order of primogeniture and representation, the first line having preference over subsequent lines; and within the same line the closer grade over the more remote; and within the same grade the male over female, and in the same sex, the elder over the younger..
—Title II the Crown, Article 57 (1), the Spanish Constitution of 1978.[3][5][34]

Male preference cognatic primogeniture has been practiced in Spain since the 11th century in the various Visigothic successor states and codified in the Siete Partidas, with women able to inherit in certain circumstances.[35] However, with the succession of Philip V in 1700, the first of the Spanish Bourbons, women were barred from succession until Ferdinand VII reintroduced the right and designated his eldest daughter Isabella as his heiress presumptive by 1833.

With the birth of Infanta Leonor of Spain on 31 October 2005 to the Prince and Princess of Asturias, Zapatero reaffirmed his then government's intention to amend the Spanish constitution by introducing full and equal cognatic primogeniture, also known in French as aînesse intégrale, which is a gender neutral succession law. Similar gender-neutral succession laws have already been adopted in the monarchies of Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Luxembourg. Zapatero's proposal was supported by the leader of the main opposition party, the conservative Partido Popular, making its passage likely. The rights of the current heir apparent Felipe, Prince of Asturias, would be maintained. With full or equal cognatic primogentiture, the first born would be the heir apparent regardless of gender. Paving the way, in 2006 the king issued a decree reforming the succession to noble titles from male preference primogeniture to absolute and equal cognatic primogeniture.[22] Since the order of succession to the Crown is codified in the Constitution, its reform mandates a complicated process that involves a dissolution of parliament, a constitutional election, and a referendum. However, Zapatero's administration ended before any amendment could be drafted, and the succeeding government has not taken up the issue in light of the recent economic setting. Prince Felipe has counseled reformers that there is plenty of time before any constitutional amendment would need to be enacted as he is next in line, and after him come his daughters.

If all lines designated by law become extinct, the constitution reserves the right for the Cortes Generales to provide for the succession "in the manner most suitable for Spain".[3][5] The 1978 constitution disinherits members of the royal family from succession if they marry against the expressed prohibition of the monarch and the Cortes Generales, as well as their descendants.[3][5] Lastly, Article 57 further provides that "Abdications and renunciations and any doubt in fact or in law that may arise in connection with the succession to the Crown shall be settled by an organic act".[3]

Constitutionally, the current heirs of Juan Carlos I;[3][5][36]

  1. HRH The Prince of Asturias, son of King Juan Carlos.
  2. HRH The Infanta Leonor, elder daughter of The Prince and Princess of Asturias
  3. HRH The Infanta Sofía, younger daughter of The Prince and Princess of Asturias
  4. HRH The Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, elder daughter of King Juan Carlos.
  5. HE Felipe Juan Froilán de Marichalar y de Borbón, son of Infanta Elena.
  6. HE Victoria Federica de Marichalar y de Borbón, daughter of Infanta Elena.
  7. HRH The Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, younger daughter of King Juan Carlos.
  8. HE Juan Urdangarín y de Borbón, eldest son of Infanta Cristina.
  9. HE Pablo Urdangarín y de Borbón, middle son of Infanta Cristina.
  10. HE Miguel Urdangarín y de Borbón, youngest son of Infanta Cristina.
  11. HE Irene Urdangarín y de Borbón, daughter of Infanta Cristina.

The constitution outlines the regency of the monarchy and guardianship of the person of the monarch in the event of his minority or incapacitation.[3][5] The office of Regent(s) and the Guardianship of the monarch (whether the monarch is in his minority or incapacitated), may not necessarily be the same person. In the event of the minority of the monarch, the surviving mother or father, or oldest relative of legal age who is nearest in line to the throne, would immediately assume the office of Regent, who in any case must be Spanish.[3][5] If a monarch becomes incapacitated, and that incapacitation is recognized by the Cortes Generales, then the Prince of Asturias (the heir apparent), shall immediately become Regent, if he is of age. If the Prince of Asturias is himself a minor, then the Cortes Generales shall appoint a Regency which may be composed of one, three, or five persons.[3][5] The person of the king in his minority shall fall under the guardianship of the person designated in the will of the deceased monarch, provided that he or she be of age and of Spanish nationality.[3][5] If no guardian has been appointed in the will, then the father or mother will then assume the guardianship, as long as they remain widowed. Otherwise, the Cortes Generales shall appoint both the Regent(s) and the guardian, who in this case may not be held by the same person, except by the father or mother of direct relation of the king.[3][5]

The king, the government, and the Cortes Generales

The constitution defines the government's responsibilities.[19] The government consists of the President of the Government and ministers of state. The government conducts domestic and foreign policy, civil and military administration, and the defense of the nation all in the name of the king. Additionally, the government exercises executive authority and statutory regulations.[19] The most direct prerogative the monarch exercises in the formation of Spanish governments is in the nomination and appointment process of the President of the Government (Presidente del Gobierno de España).[19][37][38] Following the General Election of the Cortes Generales (Cortes), and other circumstances provided for in the constitution, the king meets with and interviews the political party leaders represented in the Cortes, and then consults with the Speaker of the Congress (who, in this instance, represents the whole of the Cortes Generalas).

  • (1) After each renewal of the Congress and the other cases provided for under the Constitution, the King shall, after consultation with the representatives appointed by the political groups with parliamentary representation, and through the Speaker of the Congress, nominate for the Presidency of the Government.
  • (2) The candidate nominated in accordance with the provisions of the foregoing subsection shall submit to the Congress the political program of the Government he or she intends to form and shall seek the confidence of the House.
    —Title II Government and Administration, Article 99 (1) & (2), the Spanish Constitution of 1978.[3][19][39]