November 2005 Newsletter: Featuring Buckingham Palace & King Juan Carlos of Spain

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Heir Apparent
Mar 28, 2004


Welcome to the November 2005 edition of The Royal Forums’ newsletter.

In any job, there is some component of team work, although some jobs require more of a team effort than others. And when good teams have been assembled, the results are remarkable and work can be a pleasure and hardly seem like work at all.

I am fortunate to have a very good friend at work in my art director. She is really like a big sister to me, and is more than just a colleague. If we have to work for a living, then all the better when you get to work with people whose company you truly enjoy. It certainly makes a day pass a lot quicker!

I am also fortunate that I have such a great team of colleagues and friends at The Royal Forums. The TRF Team really is a great group of individuals who care about the forum but also about each other.

Some of us have weathered personal crises in our lives this past year, and without fail and without hesitation or complaint, other members of the team pitched in and did extra work so that the moderator dealing with personal matters could focus on that aspect of his or her life. And when good news came our way, everyone was swift in their heartfelt congratulations. There are also the daily moments of working together when we help to solve problems, brainstorm ideas to make the forum better, and those moments when we make each other laugh till we cry.

Contrary to what some members may think, being a member of the moderating team is not as glamorous as it seems! It is a lot of hard work – work that is put in by everyone on the team of their own freewill. It means free time in our personal lives spent away from our families, friends, taking care of our homes and other activities that we could otherwise be enjoying. That this group of 16 individuals does this on a daily basis, happily and enthusiastically – not to mention without any perks or salaries – is a true credit to the individuals they are.

I’ve worked on a lot of different teams in my life, and I have to say that this is the best team I’ve ever had the good fortune of working with. Everyone has a phenomenal work ethic, a terrific – if sometimes wicked – sense of humour, endless enthusiasm and creativity, thoughtfulness towards the forum and to each other, a sense of fairness and respect, and a laundry list of other amazing qualities.

I hope that this sense of team work and effort is reflected in our work around the forum. I know that I certainly feel it in my daily work and communications with other members of the team.

Cheers to an amazing moderating team!

/Alexandria, GrandDuchess & The Royal Forums Team

PS. If there is a royal person or residence, or a special piece of jewellery you would like to see covered in a future issue of our newsletter, please let us know here. Our member comments and suggestions are always welcome.


A reminder about how to go about starting Polls at the forum. Please do not simply start threads as Poll: Question. This is confusing as it is impossible to track and appears as a regular thread rather than as a poll.
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Queen Sofia of Spain (2 November 1938)

Queen Desideria of Sweden (8 November 1777)

King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden (11 November 1882)

Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg (11 November 1981)

The late King Hussain of Jordan (14 November 1935)

Peter Phillips (15 November 1977)

Alexandra Princess zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (20 November 1970)

Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia (28 November 1959)


Wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (20 November 1947)

Dates of Note

State Visit from Russia to The Netherlands (1-2 November)

Official Visit to the U.S.A. by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall (1-8 November)

Offical Visit from Norway to Denmark in connetion with the Norwegian centennial (7-8 November)

State Visit from Sweden to Australia (7-12 November)

Anniversary of enthronement ceremony of the late Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg (12 November 1964)

Wedding of Princess Sayako of Japan and Yoshiki Kuroda (15 November)

State Visit from Great Britain to Malta (23-26 November)

Anniversary of enthronement ceremony of King Juan Carlos of Spain (25 November 1975)

Anniversary of the death of Princess Sibylla of Sweden (mother of the current King of Sweden) (29 November 1972)
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Here are five threads we feel are of note and worthy of a look at

As King Juan Carlos of Spain celebrates his 30th anniversary on the Spanish throne, and as Prince Albert of Monaco prepares for a formal celebration of his ascent to the Monagasque throne, here is a thread on the Enthronement and Coronation dates of various kings and queens throughout history.

On 15 November, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko's only daughter, Princess Sayako will marry Yoshiki Kurodo. You can see full coverage of their wedding here. The engagement and wedding of Princess Sayko's oldest brother Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan to Masako Owada is here.

On 7-8 November, King Harald, Queen Sonja, and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway will pay a visit to Denmark. Visit this thread for full details and images.

Meanwhile, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden will make a state visit to Australia from 7-12 November, which you can get coverage of here.

Between 1 to 8 November, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall wil make their highly anticipated Official Visit to the U.S.A., marking the Duchess' first high profile visit abroad, and a time where we will for the first time see her as a representative of Britain abroad during a major occasion. The thread for this visit can be found here.

November 11 is a day in which we honour our war veterans who fought so bravely for the freedom and liberties we cherish today. Each year, the British Royal family honours war veterans, which you can review in this thread. Lest we not forget.
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Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is undoubtedly the most famous and recognizable royal residence in the world, to both royal watchers and non-royal watchers. But before Buckingham Palace achieved its palatial status, it was a humble townhouse owned by the Duke of Buckingham.

More than half a million people visit the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh annually. It has been the official residence of British sovereigns since 1837, when Queen Victoria moved in and called it home. Despite its grandeur, its internationally recognized quality, and its important function within the British royal family, in a March 2005 poll, Buckingham Palace – or the “The Palace" as it is sometimes referred to – was voted the fourth ugliest building in London.

Whatever its public aesthetic appeal, Buckingham Palace is the largest working palace in the world and is the epicenter of all activity for the British royal family.

Buckingham Palace was originally a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. William Winde was the original architect of Buckingham House. Winde’s original design was a three-storey central block home with two smaller flanking service wings.

Nearly 60 years later, in 1762, King George III bought Buckingham House from Sir Charles Sheffield, who had inherited the home. King George III’s intended to make the house a private residence for his wife, Queen Charlotte, as a family escape away from St. James’s Palace where royal functions took place. Buckingham House was dubbed the “Queen’s House,” and 14 of King George III’s 15 children were born there.

Over the years, throughout the reigns of various sovereigns, Buckingham Palace underwent several major renovations and expansions, under the visions of several architects, particularly John Nash and Edward Blore.

John Nash
Following King George III’s death in 1820, his son, King George IV, began an enlargement project of Buckingham House, which would allow for official functions to be divided between St. James’s Palace and Buckingham House. Plans changed in 1826 when King George IV decided to convert the house into an official royal residence with complete amenities. Architect John Nash was brought on to make King George IV’s dream a reality.

The British architect – whose other projects include Brighton Pavillion, The Royal Mews, Haymarket Theatre, and what is now Trafalgar Square– had a most majestic vision: Buckingham House would form the core of the new palace, and from it, three other facades would be built so that with Buckingham House, the new palace would form a quadrangle. The additional facades would be faced with Bath stone and styled with French neo-classical influences. A new suite of rooms was added to the west-facing side of the gardens. Although Parliament allotted £150,000, at the King’s insistence, the budget for the renovations was increased to £450,000.

William Blore

Renowned Scottish-born architect William Blore was brought on to continue renovations after King George IV’s death by his successor, King William IV, who had dismissed Nash because of the ballooning budget and the incomplete status of the palace. If Nash was idealistic and visionary in his approach to the palace, Blore was practical and professional.

Rather than rip down or re-do what Nash had managed to complete, Blore retained all of Nash’s completed work and carried on his vision of the palace, albeit in a less grand manner.

When all was said and done, Buckingham Palace was completed at a cost of £719,000.

During Queen Victoria’s reign, to meet the needs of her and Prince Albert’s growing family, a new wing (the East Front), which would face east towards The Mall, was added. As part of this wing, the balcony from which the royal family waves to the crowds on special occasions such as Trooping the Colour, was built.


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Exteriour pictures


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Effects on the façade

1: Brightening up London during the holidays 2003, 2: Brightening up London during the holidays 2003, 3: Brightening up London during the holidays 2003, 4: Brightening up London during the holidays 2003, 5: Party at the Palace, Golden Jubilee, 2002, 6: Party at the Palace, Golden Jubilee, 2002, 7: WWII projections July 2005, 8: WWII projections July 2005, 9: WWII projections July 2005


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Interior décor

The palace has nearly 600 rooms. There are 19 state rooms, 52 principal bedrooms (Buckingham Palace is the London base for the Prince Andrew and the Earl and Countess of Wessex), 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. While it is one of the largest working palaces today, it is small in comparison to other grand residences of history, such as the Papal Palace in Rome.

Over the years, the interior of the palace has undergone some changes, all dependent on the fancies and preferences of its owners. The palace was originally decorated in the Georgian style, with brightly coloured scagliola and blue and pink lapis. King Edward VIII redecorated the palace in Belle époque creams and golds. Some reception rooms were done in the Chinese regency style with furniture and fixings such as fireplaces, brought over from the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and Carlton House.

Queen Mary, whose husband King George V had ascended to the throne in 1911, was a connoisseur of the arts and took a great personal interest in the Royal Collection of art and furniture. During her husband’s reign, Queen Mary restored many of the pieces in the Royal Collection, as well as adding new pieces. New fixtures and fittings, such as a pair of marble Empire-style chimney pieces, were installed in the Bow Room at Queen Mary’s insistence. The Blue Drawing Room was also Queen Mary’s doing. Formerly the South Drawing Room, the 21 metre-long room features a coffered ceiling with large gilt console brackets done by John Nash, which is said to be among his finest work.

The Picture Gallery is 50 metres long and upon its walls hangs works by the finest artists throughout history, including works by Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer, and Sir Anthony Van Dyck.

The Throne Room was designed by Nash but completed by Edward Blore during the reign of William IV. Below the gilded ceiling is a frieze, designed in 1828, which depicts the Wars of the Roses. The throne arch is supported by two Winged Victories. The thrones on the dais under the arch are the ones made for the Queen and Prince Philip in 1953; thrones from earlier reigns are placed at intervals around the room. The gilded trophies on the wall either side of the throne are thought to have come from the throne room at Carlton House, George IV's previous residence. The room is illuminated by seven chandeliers made of glass and bronze.

1: Members of the staff adjusts a painting in the East Gallery, 2: A member of the staff polishes a chandelier in the Ballroom, 3: A member of staff in her palace office, 4: The Music Room, 5: The State Dining Room, 6: The Queen’s Gallery, 7: The Throne Room, 8: The White Drawing Room, 9: The Ballroom


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The Sovereign's Official Residence

Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to make Buckingham Palace her home, when she took up residence in July 1837, only three weeks after her accession. (King George IV never moved into the palace.) She was the first British sovereign to leave from Buckingham Palace for her coronation.

During the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, with Prince Albert at her side, great musicians of the day such as Felix Mendelssohn and Johann Strauss II were invited to play at the palace, which was also the site for lavish costume parties and grand ceremonies of the British royal court. But upon Prince Albert’s death in 1862, Queen Victoria withdrew from public life and abandoned Buckingham Palace for Windosr Castle, Balmoral Castle, and Osborne House.

The accession of jet set King Edward VII and his wife Queen Alexandra saw life being revived back into Buckingham Palace again. The new King and Queen’s circle of friends had been dubbed the Marlborough House set, comprised of the most eminent and fashionable elite of British society. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra once again hosted grand parties of the kind Queen Victoria had been known for.

During World War II, Buckingham Palace was an obvious target – the Nazis thought that the destruction of Buckingham Palace would destroy the moral of the British people. As such, the palace was bombed at least seven times, including one bomb which fell in the palace quadrange whle King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I were present. Fortunately, no one was hurt and no serious damage other than shattered windows was reported. In 1940 however, the palace chapel was bombed, and during the King and Queen’s inspection of their ruined home, Queen Elizabeth I remarked, “I’m glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face.” When WWII ended, on VE Day (8 may 1945), the palace was the natural place for the British people to convene. The King and Queen, Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret appeared on the balcony waving to the crowd below in the Mall, blacked out windows behind them.


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A working palace

Whether its perceived as such or not, Buckingham Palace is the “office” of about 450 people who co-ordinate the calendars for members of the royal family, prepare for state visits and special ceremonies, and other activities.

Today, the Throne Room is used for formal ceremonies and addresses to the Queen, as well as for formal wedding portraits.

The Victorian Ball Room, which was built in 1854, is the largest room in the palace at 123 feet by 60 feet. It is here that the Queen conducts investitures, – 21 a year – when she confers knighthoods by tapping recipients on their shoulders with a sword. (When The Beatles were honoured at the palace, they admitted to smoking pot in the palace washrooms to help them relax.) State banquets also take place here, where more than 150 guests in formal attire and royals in tiaras will dine, mix and mingle.

The 1844 Room hosts smaller ceremonies in the Queen’s presence, such as receptions welcoming new ambassadors or small lunch parties and Privy Council meetings. (Larger lunch parties take place in the curved and domed Music Room or the State Dining Room.)

The Music Room has been used for many a royal baptism. Princess Anne, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew were baptized here, as was Prince William. (Prince Harry was baptized at St. George’s Chapel Windsor.) It is also used to formally present visitors to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.


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A working palace, pictures


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A working palace, pictures


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A working palace, pictures


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A working palace, pictures.


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Special family occasions at the palace


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The Buckingham Palace Gardens

The Buckingham Palace Gardens are the largest private gardens in London.

Capability Brown was the original landscaper, although the gardens were redesigned by William Townsend Ailton and John Nash.

The gardens’ man-made lake was finished in 1828, and filled with water from the Serptentine Lake in Hyde Park.

Each year, the gardens play host to one of the largest functions of Buckingham Palace: The Garden Parties. More than 9,000 people attend this annual event, enjoying tea and sandwiches amidst the beautifully manicured and landscaped gardens.

The Buckingham Palace garden is a remarkable place: an ecological rarity, an isolated habitat of 40 acres walled for 150 years in the middle of the great city of London. It is socially eminent because it is ‘The Queen’s Garden.’ But, most of all it is an oasis of tranquillity. The 40 acres of garden and lake behind the Buckingham Palace have been private royal sanctuary since Princess Victoria moved from the Kensington Palace to the Buckingham Palace where she was proclaimed Queen in 1837.

The garden began its long history as a mulberry tree plantation in the early 17th century. King James I planted 10,000 of the trees there to feed silkworms, hoping to have the silk industry rival the long established English wool trade. Unfortunately he chose a tree variety that was unpalatable to the silkworm and the gardens fell into disuse. After George III bought the Buckingham House from the Buckingham family, his son George IV, in 1825, commissioned William Townsend Aiton, head of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to transform the original formal garden design into the natural landscaping of the present 19th century gardens. Aiton took great inspiration from Capability Brown whose concepts of a classical landscape idyll changed the look of English stately home gardens landscaping from the formal rigidity of Versailles to the more natural pastoral vistas we admire today. Much of the dense shrubbery that grew up around the lake during Queen Victoria’s reign was cleared between 1945 and 1952 by The Queen’s parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother. In fact, the Queen Mother, an ardent gardener, introduced a vibrant selection of choice decorative flowering shrubs and trees.

In 2001, 500 yard walk along the southern perimeter of the garden was opened up for public viewing. The picturesque walk skirts the Palace’s peaceful lake, a 3 acre stretch of fish-stocked water created for George V in 1825 by joining two existing ponds. The lake is a safe haven and nesting ground to a variety of water birds, some 30 different species. Over 200 trees border the lake and a rich variety of lilies, and other wild flowers and grass grow in its banks.

Royal Fixtures in the Buckingham Palace Garden

The Waterloo Vase: Napoleon had seen the marble in the block, newly cut at Carrara in Tuscany, when he was setting out on his Russian campaign. He ordered a gigantic vase to be made and decorated with scenes from his intended victory, a plan which foundered in the Russian snows. After the final defeat at Waterloo, the partly formed vase came to Britain, to George IV via Ambassador Lord Burghersh and Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1820 the King commissioned Richard Westmacott to finish the vase, which was to have a place of honor in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle. In Westmacott’s relief’s, horses and men sweep around the vase in scenes of victory and defeat. The vase inspired by Borghese and Medici Vases, is larger than both of them—nearly 18 feet high, nearly 9 feet across and weighing around 39 tons. It was found too heavy for any of the planned positions within Windsor Castle and William IV presented it to the nation in 1836; first placed in the National Gallery, it was brought to the garden at Buckingham Palace in 1906.

Wellington Arch: is located at Hyde Park Corner defines the north-west corner of the garden. It was originally crowned with an immense statue of the Duke of Wellington on horseback. This was replaced by the present sculpture, The Quadriga of Peace, showing Peace descending onto a Roman war chariot; it was designed by Adrian Jones. The Quadriga was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1891 and in 1912 it was put on the Arch.
The Arch is surrounded by azaleas, cherries and other flowering shrubs coming into full bloom in the spring. They were planted in the 1930s and 1940s for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The magnolia cultivar ‘Elizabeth’ was presented by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to the Queen in 1982.

Admiralty summer house: The summer house adorned by sea-gods was moved into the garden from its original position by The Mall, for Queen Alexandra, the Danish ‘sea-king’s daughter’ in 1902. The summer house now looks over rose gardens planted in 1960s—the rose was Queen Alexandra’s favorite flower.

Commemorative trees

1. A cooper beech, planted by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on March 15 1902, shortly after they ascended to the throne. It reached 17.5m in 1994.

2. A London plane, planted by King George V and Queen Mary on their twentieth wedding anniversary on July 6 1913. It reached 18.25m in 1994.

3. A London plane, planted for Princess Mary on October 15 1913. It reached 18m in 2000.

4. A horse chestnut, planted by Prince Albert (later King Albert VIII) on October 15 1914. It reached 17.2m in 2000.

5. A horse chestnut, planted by Prince George (later Duke of Kent) on April 13 1917. It reached 18.2m in 2000.

6. A Caucasian lime, planted for the Silver Wedding of King George V and Queen Mary in 1918. It reached 15m in 2000.

7. Two Indian horse chestnuts, planted for King George V and Queen Mary on December 2 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee. They reached 15.2m and 16.1m respectively in 1994.

8. An Indian horse chestnut, planted for Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the coronation in 1937. It reached 16.1 in 1994.

9. An English oak, planted by Prince Charles on Good Friday 1954. The acorn from which this tree arose was germinated on November 14 1948 to celebrate his birth. It reached 10.2m in 1994.

10. An English oak, planted by Princess Anne on Good Friday 1954. The acorn from which this tree arose was germinated on August 15 1950 to celebrate her birth. It reached 17.2m in 1994.

11. An English oak, planted by Prince Andrew on March 10 1969. The acorn from which this tree arose was germinated on February 19 1960 to celebrate his birth. It reached 10.2m in 1994.

12. An English oak, planted by Prince Edward on March 10 1969. The acorn from which this tree arose was germinated on March 10 1964 to celebrate his birth. It reached 8.7m in 1994.

13. A cut-leaf beech, planted by Prince Charles on his 21st birthday November 14 1969. It reached 10.2m in 1994.

14. A silver lime, planted by Lord Elworthy at the instance of Royal Horticultural Society on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II on October 18 1977. It reached 13.1m in 1994.

15. A hedge maple given to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands to commemorate their Golden Wedding, planted on January 23 1998.

16. A yellow magnolia cultivar, given to Queen Elizabeth II by the Metropolitan Parks and Gardens Association to celebrate the Golden Jubilee, planted on April 16 2002.

Notes and Pictures taken from 'The Garden at Buckingham Palace: An Illustrated History' by Jane Brown


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H. M. King Juan Carlos I of Spain

Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was born on January 5th, 1938 in Rome where the royal family was living in exile, having had to leave Spain when the Republic was proclaimed in 1931. His parents were HRH Princess Maria de las Mercedes Cristina Genara Isabel Luisa Carolina Victoria of Bourbon Two-Sicilies and HRH Juan Carlos Teresa Silvestre Alfonso de Borbón y Battenberg, Infante of Spain, Count of Barcelona and Head of the Spanish Royal Household ever since his father, King Alfonso XIII, had relinquished his status.

His father Juan de Borbon y Battenberg, Count of Barcelona, was the fourth son of King Alfonso XIII. He had become the heir apparent to the Spanish Throne when his two older brothers had relinquished their status. HRH Infante Don Alfonso de Borbón y Battenberg, Prince of the Asturias, later Count of Covadonga (10 May 1907-6 September 1938), renounced all rights to the Spanish throne for himself and his descendants, because of his intended unequal marriage and HRH Infante Don Jaime de Borbón y Battenberg, Duke of Segovia, later Duke of Anjou, Madrid, and Segovia (23 June 1908- 20 March 1975), renounced his rights because of his physical infirmities - at the age of four he suffered from double mastoiditis and the resulting operation left him deaf; his speech never developed properly. Infante Juan also had an older brother, HRH Infante Fernando de Borbón y Battenberg, who was stillborn.

Don Juan was recognized as the heir apparent to the Spanish throne and held the title Prince of Asturias from 21 June 1933, but preferred to use the title Count of Barcelona. However Franco viewed the heir with extreme suspicion, believing him to be a liberal who was opposed to his regime - a fairly accurate assessment. Franco then considered the idea of giving the throne to Juan Carlos's cousin, Alfonso de Borbón Dampierre. In response, Juan Carlos started to use his second name Carlos to assert his pretensions to the heritage of the Carlist branch of his family.

The regime of Francisco Franco had come to power during the Spanish Civil War, which had pitted socialist and democratic republicans against monarchists and fascists, with the latter two groups ultimately emerging successful. Despite his alliance with monarchists, Franco was not keen to restore the deposed Spanish monarchy once in power, preferring instead to head a regime with himself as Head of State for life. Though Franco's partisan supporters generally accepted this arrangement for the present, much debate quickly ensued over who would replace Franco should he be assassinated, or otherwise eventually pass away. Monarchist factions demanded the return of a hardline absolute monarchy, and eventually Franco agreed that his successor would be a monarch.

Franco passed over Don Juan, who would have been king if the monarchy had continued uninterrupted, in favour of his son, Juan Carlos, whom Franco believed would be more likely to continue the Francoist state after his death. However, despite his apparent public support of the Francoregime, Juan Carlos personally harbored ambitions to bring liberal reform to the country, much like his father. Though this fact would eventually become somewhat of an open secret as the years progressed, and Juan Carlos began meeting with political opposition leaders and exiles, Franco for his part remained largely oblivious to the Prince's views, and denied allegations that Juan Carlos was in any way disloyal to his vision of the regime.

The future King's early life was dictated largely by the political concerns of his father, Juan de Borbón, and Franco. At the express wish of his father, he was educated in Spain from the age of ten, after a period as a boarder at the Marianist school in the Swiss town of Fribourg. His parents, meanwhile, had been living since 1946 along the coastal town of Estoril in Portugal.
In 1954, he finished his Baccalaureate at the San Isidro School in Madrid and then, in 1955 went on to study at the Military Academies and Colleges of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force reaching the rank of Officer. From 1957 he spent a year in the naval school at Pontevedra and another in the Air Force school in San Javier in Murcia. During that period, he went to sea as a midshipman on the "Juan Sebastian Elcano" training ship, and also qualified as a military pilot.

HRH Infante Don Juan Carlos had three siblings, two sisters and a brother, HRH María del Pilar Alfonsa Juana Victoria Luísa Ignacia de Todos los Santos, Infanta Doña Pilar of Spain, Duchess of Badajoz, born in 1936; HRH Margarita María de la Victoria Esperanza Jacoba Felicidad Perpetua de Todos los Santos, Infanta of Spain, Duchess of Soria, 2nd Duchess of Hernani, born in 1939 and HRH Alfonso Cristino Teresa Angelo Francisco de Asis y Todos los Santos, Infante of Spain, born in 1941.

At the age of 18, during one of his visits to the exiled royal family's home in Estoril, tragedy knocked on the door of the Borbón family. It was the evening before Good Friday, 1956. While D. Juan Carlos and his brother Alfonso were cleaning a revolver, a shot went off and killed the infante, within a few minutes. This fact emotionally affected Juan Carlos and his mother, who was present during the accident and had to recover in a German clinic, because of depression from the death of her youngest son.

Although profoundly upset with the disaster, Juan Carlos went back to Spain.
He completed his education from 1960 to 1961 at the Complutense University, Madrid, where he studied constitutional and international law, economics and taxation. He was conferred the honourary Doctor of Laws by the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines. He then went to live in the Palace of Zarzuela, and began carrying out official engagements.

Juan Carlos met and consulted with Franco many times while heir apparent, and often performed official and ceremonial state functions alongside the dictator - much to the anger of hardline republican fascists and more moderate liberals, who had hoped that Franco's death would bring in an era of reform.

During periods of Franco's temporary incapacity in 1974 and 1975 Juan Carlos was acting Head of State. Near death, on October 30, 1975, Franco gave control to Juan Carlos.

The Count of Barcelona renounced his claim to the throne on 14 May 1977. The resignation came 46 years after Spain had been declared a republic, eight years after Don Juan being deposed by Franco, and two years after his son had become King Juan Carlos. In return, his son officially granted him the title of Count of Barcelona, which he had claimed for so long.


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In the summer of 1954, Queen Federika of Greece organized a cruise on the Agamemnon Yatch, with the purpose of putting together ten younger members of the royal European houses. It was during this cruise that Princess Sophia of Greece, then 15 and Don Juan Carlos de Borbón, then 16, first met.

But it would take four years so that Juan Carlos confessed to his friends, at the wedding of Isabel de Würtemberg and António de Borbón Dos-Sicilias: «Princess Sophia of Greece... she enchants me»! Impecably dressed in his Navy Gala uniform, the Prince spent that whole evening of July in the Althausen Castle, courting the young princess. They strolled by the castle's gardens, they danced... The dice were loaded.

After this big social meeting, the couple got together again during the sailing competition at the 1960 Olympic Games, in which doña Sophia participated as backup of her brother, Constantine. Because of that, the Kings of Greece organized a dinner in their boat, Polemistis. Doña Sophia summarizes the meeting: “Together with don Juan and doña María, came Juan Carlos. He had a mustache. I said to him. «I don't like this disgusting moustache.» «Really?, but now I don't know how I'm going to get rid of it.» «You don't know how? I do. Come with me.» I took him to the boat's bathroom, made him sit, put a towel in his neck, just like in a barber's shop, got a razor, lifted his nose and took it away. And he let me do it!»

In 1961, during a celebration in the Beau Rivage Hotel of Lausanne, Juan Carlos threw a small box in the air, saying: «Sofi, catch it»! The King - as Queen Sophia has said herself in numerous occasions never formally asked «Will you marry me». Inside the box, there was an engagement ring. He then came to the princess and just said: «Now, we will get married, okay»?...

The engagement was announced on December 12th, 1961.

And, at ten in the morning on that May 14th, 1962, don Juan Carlos waited for his bride. Forty-five thousand red and yellow carnations, brought specifically from Valencia and Cataluña, adorned the interior of the temple.
Princess Sophia, before entering the cathedral saluted her people as in a farewell... Meanwhile, the Tatoi Chapelain conducted a choir of 300 voices that started to sing the Halleluiah of Haendel.

The princes were married by two church rites. The first, Catholic, happened at the San Dionisio Cathedral. The second, Orthodox, happened an hour later at Saint Mary's Cathedral and was authorized by Pope John XXIII. Doña Sophia, moved emotionally during both ceremonies, had to use Juan Carlos hankerchief several times.

The Archbishop Printesi posed the question and Don Juan Carlos, replied loud and clear "sí," the Princess, with a more tender voice answered: "Malissa" (yes in Greek).

After the final blessings, a shower of rose petals and rice fell over the bride and groom. And a 21 gun salute announced that Sophia was now a Princess of Spain.

After the reception, the couple went away on their honeymoon, which lasted four months. It started in the Aegean Islands and ended in London. When they returned, they went to live in la Zarzuela, a little palace on the outskirts of Madrid, where they were able to live as a family. According to an interview given to Spanish TV, Juan Carlos could not forget what his grandfather, Alfonso XIII, once told him: "he was only able to eat hot food, when travelling around Spain, because at the Royal Palace the kitchen was so far from the dining-room, that the food always got there cold"!

In 1963, the first of their three children, Infanta Elena María Isabel Dominica de Silos de Borbón y Grecia, was born, followed, two years later, by Infanta Cristina Federica de Borbón y Grecia, and, finally in 1968, by Prince Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia.


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The King of all Spaniards

In July 1969, when the Head of State, Francisco Franco, proposed Juan Carlos as his successor in the heads of the State, the dictator made it clear that it was the case of an establishment, rather than a restoration of the Borbonic monarchy, as he believed the Prince would maintain the essence of the regime, once he passed away.

By 1973 Franco had given up the function of Prime Minister (Presidente del Gobierno), remaining only as head of the country and as commander in chief of the military forces. As his final years progressed tension within the various factions of the Movimiento would consume Spanish political life, as varying groups jockeyed for position to control the country's future.

Franco died on November 20, 1975. Two days later, on November 22, HRH Prince Juan Carlos of Spain's proclamation ceremony was held, he was now officially His Majesty, King Juan Carlos I of Spain. His first message to the nation would express the basic ideas of his reign: to restore democracy and to become the King of all Spaniards, without exception.

A month later, the first democratic election since 1936 was held, the new Parliament drafted the text of the current Spanish Constitution, approved in a referendum on December 6th 1978, and he received the royal assent in a solemn session of the Parliament on December 27th of that same year.

The Constitution of 1978 established then as the form of government of the Spanish State that of a parliamentary monarchy, in which the King appears as the arbiter and overseer of the proper working of the institutions and thus giving up all the executive authority granted by the Francoism.

By giving the royal assent to this Constitution, King Juan Carlos expressly proclaimed his firm intention to abide by it and serve it, as he did so many times, particularly when the constitutional powers had been retained in the Parliament building, in the attempted coup d'etat of February 23th 1981.


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Being a down-to-earth and popular monarch, Juan Carlos I enjoys today a high consideration among his fellow citizens. Immediately after becoming King of Spain, the then communist leader Santiago Carrillo nicknamed him as Juan Carlos the Brief (predicting that the monarchy would be swept away, along with the other remnants of the Franco era). But the truth was that H.M. King Juan Carlos has conquered the respect and admiration of all Spaniards. And if public support prior to 1981 was conditional, mainly among democrats and lefty wingers, after the King's handling of the coup, it became unconditional, with a former senior leader of the Second Republic finally saying what could be presumed as Spain's recognition to the undoubtful merit of its head of state: "We are all monarchists now".

Even those who observe the Monarchy as an anachronistic institution respect the figure of the king, for his wise leadership, his good will, his open character and his proximity to the people, in a popular conduct, undressed of aristocratic complacencies, which some people have even dubbed as Juancarlismo.

Juan Carlos I is thus recognized worldwide as one of the most important personalities of the 20th century: a wholeheartedly democratic, modern and pro-European leader, who has encouraged a new style in conducting relations with Latin America, being fully recognized inside Spain and abroad, with the concession of more than thirty doctorates honoris causa and numerous other awards, such as the prestigious Prize Carlomagno (1982), the Simón Bolívar Award (Venezuela, 1983), the Nansen medal granted by the High Commissioner of United Nations for Refugees (ACNUR), the Four Liberties Prize of the Institute Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (1996), the Foundation Jean Monnet Award (1996), the Gold medal of the Organization of Latin American States for Education, Science and Culture (1999) and the Great Necklace of the Order of the Tower and Sword of Portugal (2000).


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Being well-known as a fan of aquatic sports, ski and high-speed vehicles, H. M. Juan Carlos I is a man of his time; the man who gave numerous samples of strength and joy; the man who led Spain into political stability that has allowed its current flourishing period; the man who honoured the golden times of his heritage…

…and Spain repays its most beloved king with the unmistakable embrace of friendship.


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Happy 30th reigning anniversary, Your Majesty!


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