Juan Carlos I (1938-), king of Spain, 1975-. He succeeded Francisco Franco as head of state and restored democratic rule to Spain after more than 35 years of dictatorship. Juan Carlos was born in Rome, grandson of the exiled Alfonso XIII of the House of Bourbon. At Franco's request, he received a military education in Spain. He married Princess Sophia of Greece in 1962. Franco declared Juan Carlos to be his successor—bypassing Juan Carlos's father, Don Juan—in 1969 but retained control of Spain until his death in 1975. Juan Carlos won wide acclaim in 1981 when he saved Spain's fragile democracy by thwarting, without bloodshed, a right-wing military coup.
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