December 8, 2013
Spain's king will have hip surgery for a third time
Spain's King Juan Carlos will have hip surgery for a third time, the royal palace said reviving speculation the ailing monarch may be close to abdicating.
The 75-year-old monarch, who walks with a cane and has appeared visibly more frail in recent months, has had seven surgeries since 2010. Both of his hips have been replaced and in March he had an operation on a spinal disc hernia.
The King, who helped guide Spain to democracy at the end of the Francisco Franco dictatorship in 1975, was long one of Europe's most popular monarchs, but a series of scandals have eroded public support for the royal family.
The king's son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin has been charged with tax fraud and embezzling 6 million euros ($8 million) in public funds, through his charitable foundation.
Last year, at the height of Spain's financial crisis when the country teetered on the verge of an international bailout, the king fell and broke his hip during a secret safari in Botswana.
Spaniards were outraged that the king - once loved for his common touch - was on an expensive trip at a time when one out of four of his subjects is unemployed.
The king's health, and speculation he would abdicate, were top Twitter topics in Spain on Friday afternoon.
The palace scheduled a news conference for today to provide more details on the hip operation.
Earlier this year a poll showed that half of Spaniards thought the king should step down in favour of his son, Prince Felipe, 45, who has not been touched by scandal and still enjoys strong public favour.