Last month, King Juan Carlos I surprised the world* by announcing that he would abdicate in favor of his handsome and gigantically tall son, Felipe VI. (Though he did not actually mention his son’s handsomeness or giganticness in his announcement.)
At first everyone assumed that this was another one of the King’s hilarious pranks, like that time he pretended to invade Portugal.** But if it started out as a joke, it quickly became all too real, and on June 19, Felipe VI was crowned king of Spain. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd when Felipe donned the traditional Spanish Royal Crown, which is made entirely of bullhorns. (It used to be made out of bull’s horns, but after protests by animal-rights activists, it was replaced with a crown made out of bullhorns.)
As Juan Carlos no doubt realized, there are many ways that an aging monarch stands to benefit by retiring early:
- Being a king or queen is (probably?) a lot of work. By relinquishing your title, you have a lot more free time to sit around and contemplate your mortality as it swiftly approaches.
- After you’ve handed over the reins of ceremonial power, your son or daughter will no longer find it necessary to poison you in order to usurp the throne. (Though they might poison you anyway, just because old people can be annoying.)
- Hopefully your Parliament will pass some kind law making you immune from legal prosecution. Because if not—yikes! You are going to have to pay a lot of back child support!
- You will finally be free to go elephant-hunting without being criticized. Except by elephants, I guess. But you can’t live your life always trying to please elephants.
If you are a monarch, I advise you to seriously consider following Juan Carlos’ example and abdicating in favor of Felipe VI. (If you are not a monarch, please go away, because this web site is for monarchs only. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear before.)
*Admit it—you were surprised. Since when has Spain had a king?
**No one saw it coming when, two weeks later, he really did invade Portugal.