Gallery: King Juan Carlos of Spain's top moments

by King Juan Carlos of Spain announced his decision to step down from the throne on Monday, bringing the curtain down on a reign of 39 years.

When he took the crown on November 22, 1975, the monarch became Spain's first king since 1931, when the country abolished the monarchy and replaced it with a democratic republic.

For much of his reign he was considered to be one of the most popular heads of state the world over. "He has been the best spokesman and representative of Spain in all corners of the world," said Spainish president Mariano Rajoy as he announced the king's intentions to abdicate.

He went on to pay tribute to the outgoing sovereign as "a tireless defender of our interests," adding: "I am convinced this is the best moment for change".

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