After several years battling scandals and ill-health, King Juan Carlos of Spain is abdicating in favour of his son, Prince Felipe. The 76-year-old monarch reigned for 39 years, shepherding his nation from military dictatorship to a democracy.
In a televised address, he talked of, “A new generation is quite rightly demanding to take the lead role.” He’s the third European monarch in 13 months to abdicate, following Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and King Albert of Belgium.
And just like those other countries, Spain gets a very young, female heir to the throne.
Felipe’s elder daughter, Leonor, is just 8. She is set to become the youngest heir in Europe, joining Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands, 10, and Elisabeth of Belgium, 12 as first in line to the throne. And now that most nations have changed their once male-friendly laws of succession to first-born-wins-all, they won’t be the last queen regnants.
Lined up after Crown Prince Haakon of Norway is his daughter Ingrid, 10. And Sweden, the country that started the trend of equal primogeniture, has two future female monarchs: Crown Princess Victoria and her 2-year-old daughter, Estelle.
Unlike the ruthless Queen Cersei of the fictional Game of Thrones, they will inherit their kingdoms through a smooth, constitutional transition of power, not through medieval machinations.