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Tue 3 Jun 2014 12:28 PM

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King Juan Carlos announces abdication

King Juan Carlos of Spain has announced plans to abdicate, paving the way for his son Felipe to take the throne. The king will step down after 39 years, with hopes that the more popular Felipe will boost the image of the monarchy which has been beset by scandals and setbacks in recent years. However, thousands of people took to the streets to demand a referendum on whether Spain should return to a public, with protestors calling for regional independence.

King Juan Carlos announces abdication
In this handout image provided by the Spanish Royal Palace, King Juan Carlos of Spain signs papers to confirm his abdication on June 02, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Getty Images)
King Juan Carlos announces abdication
In this handout image provided by the Spanish Royal Palace, King Juan Carlos of Spain shakes hands with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after signing papers to confirm his abdication on June 02, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Getty Images)
King Juan Carlos announces abdication
People watch the televised abdication speech by King Juan Carlos of Spain, on June 02, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. King Juan Carlos of Spain has renounced the throne after 39 years and will be succeeded by his son, Prince Felipe of Spain. (Getty Images)
King Juan Carlos announces abdication
A man buys an afternoon edition of El Pais newspapers leading with the story of the abdication of Spanish King Juan Carlos on June 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. King Juan Carlos of Spain has renounced the throne after 39 years and will be succeeded by his son Prince Felipe of Spain. (Getty Images)
King Juan Carlos announces abdication
Protesters call for a referendum on whether Spain should return to a Republic on June 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. King Juan Carlos of Spain has renounced the thrown after 39 years and will be succeeded by his son Prince Felipe of Spain. (Getty Images)
King Juan Carlos announces abdication
Protesters flutter Republican and Communist Party flags in support of a referendum on whether Spain should return to a Republic at Sol Gate square on June 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. King Juan Carlos of Spain has renounced the throne after 39 years and will be succeeded by his son, Prince Felipe. (Getty Images)
King Juan Carlos announces abdication
Protesters call for a referendum on whether Spain should return to a Republic at Sol Gate Square on June 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. King Juan Carlos of Spain has renounced the throne after 39 years and will be succeeded by his son, Prince Felipe. (Getty Images)
King Juan Carlos announces abdication
Demonstrators rally in Plaza Catalunya in favor of Catalan independence and Republic on June 2, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. King Juan Carlos of Spain announced today his abdication from the throne and will be succeeded by his son Prince Felipe of Spain. (Getty Images)