|HM the King, HRH the Prince of Asturias, and HRH Infanta Leonor in 2012|
Of the world's 28 (which is not nearly enough, by the way) reigning monarchs, only seven have been on the throne since before I was born: the King of Thailand (1946), the Queen of the United Kingdom (1952), the Sultan of Brunei (1967), the Sultan of Oman (1970), the Queen of Denmark (1972), the King of Sweden (1973), and the King of Spain (1975). Soon it will be down to six.
Here is an excellent selection of pictures (including the above three-generation photo) from the Telegraph.
It's...interesting, seeing the Spanish and EU flags side by side. One is beautiful, organic, steeped in tradition and history, evoking a world of chivalry. The other is ugly, artificial, modern, incapable of evoking anything other than the pedestrian plans of politicians, bureaucrats, and committees.
Not only has there not been a "normal" succession in Spain since 1788 (Carlos III/Carlos IV), but when King Juan Carlos formally hands over the thrown to Prince Felipe, it will be the first time one Spanish monarch has immediately succeeded another since 1833 (which was far from uncontroversial due to Isabel II's gender), and the first time one king has followed another in less than a year since 1885/86. This transition and the reception of the new King will be an important test of the resilience of the Spanish monarchy.
It's perhaps worth noting that at 76 King Juan Carlos is already older than any Spanish monarch in history. Only two Spanish monarchs since unification (1492) have reached their 70th birthdays while still on the throne: Felipe II (1527-1598) and Carlos III (1716-1788). And among those who abdicated, none except for Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte (if you count him at all) made it to 76.
I've had it with internet "monarchists" who refuse to recognise King Juan Carlos (and soon, presumably, Felipe VI). What exactly do they think they're accomplishing? Genealogically, Juan Carlos IS the Carlist King of Spain (the original Carlist line died out in 1936, leaving the exiled Alfonso XIII as the senior living Bourbon) and his legitimacy has been unquestionable since his father's renunciation in 1977. There is no alternative. Viva el Rey!