In a surprise announcement, King Carlos of Spain has told his prime minister he is abdicating in favor of his son, Prince Felipe.

The announcement was made Monday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. “His majesty, King Juan Carlos, has just communicated to me his will to give up the throne,” he said. “I’m convinced this is the best moment for change.”

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The 76-year-old Spanish monarch, whose health is failing, has led his people for 40 years from the throne. Rajoy said he is stepping down for personal reasons.

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