King Juan Carlos I
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2010
In the 1970s and 1980s, democracy in Spain found an unlikely champion. King Juan Carlos I had been groomed by Francisco Franco to extend the power of conservative military rule. Big mistake.
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Lead: In the 1970s and 1980s, democracy in Spain found an unlikely champion. King Juan Carlos I had been groomed by Francisco Franco to extend the power of conservative military rule. Big mistake.
Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: In the terrible aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Generalissimo Francisco Franco grasped and vigorously held power in Spain until his death in 1975. He began in the late 1940s, however, to plan for the restoration of the monarchy to succeed his rule. Well, even dictators die, and Franco had to have some system in place that he believed would honor the sentiments of the army and the nationalists who had won the civil war. Franco's problem was that the designated heir to the Spanish crown was Don Juan, son of King Alfonso XIII whose abdication in 1931 paved the way for the Spanish Republic, which Franco deposed in the Civil War. Don Juan, exiled for the most part in Rome, held relatively liberal views and was vehemently opposed to Franco's repressive regime.
To insure a sympathetic transition, Franco jumped generations, designated Don Juan's son, 10-year-old Juan Carlos, as his successor and in 1948 invited the boy home for grooming. His education, complete with handpicked tutors, schools and classmates, was specially designed to indoctrinate him as an appropriate heir to the reactionary, conservative tradition of Franco. The old man watched very carefully and, finally satisfied that the young man would continue military rule, offered him the crown in 1969. When the dictator died in 1975, Juan Carlos became king. He was 37 years old, had attended three military service academies, and was intimately associated with the class of army and civilian leaders who surrounded the aging Franco in his last years. Which way would he lead the Spaniards?
Next time: The Unlikely Democrat.
The producer of A Moment In Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.