his morning, I am addressing you all, in this message, to convey an important, heartfelt decision and the reasons that have led me to take it.
When I was proclaimed King, nearly forty years ago, I gave a binding commitment to serve the general interests of Spain, and it was my ambition that the citizens of this country should become masters of their own future and that our nation should be transformed into a modern democracy, one that is fully integrated into Europe.
It was then that I resolved to lead the inspiring national project that enabled the citizens of Spain to elect their legitimate representatives and to bring about the far-reaching, positive transformation of the country that we all needed.
Today, when I look back, I cannot help but feel proud, and thankful to you all.
Proud, of so much good that we have achieved during these years.
And thankful, for the support you have given me, to make this reign, which I began as a young man, in times of great uncertainties and difficulties, one that has spanned a long period of peace, freedom, stability and progress.
True to the political wishes of my father, the Count of Barcelona, from whom I inherited the historical legacy of the Spanish monarchy, I have endeavoured to be King of all the Spanish people. I have shared your feelings and your ambitions, I have rejoiced at your successes and I have suffered when pain or frustration have overtaken you.
The profound, long-lasting economic crisis we are undergoing has deeply scarred the social fabric of the country, but at the same time it is showing us the path toward a hopeful future.
We have made use of these difficult years to conduct a self-critical assessment of our mistakes and our shortcomings as a society.
In counterbalance, they have also reawakened the proud awareness of what we have done and what we can do, of what we have been and of what we are now: a great nation.
These feelings, both good and bad, encourage us to renew, to improve, to correct mistakes and to open the way to a decidedly better future.
In creating this future, a new generation quite rightly seeks to play a leading role, as was the case of my own generation at a crucial juncture in our history.
Now is the time for a younger generation to step up, one with new energy, resolved to undertake the transformations and reforms demanded by today’s circumstances and to address the challenges of tomorrow with renewed intensity and dedication.
My sole ambition has always been and will always be to contribute to the welfare and freely-decided progress of all the Spanish people.
I wish the very best for Spain, to which I have devoted my entire life and on whose behalf I have applied all my ability, my enthusiasm and my work.
My son Felipe, the heir to the throne, embodies stability, which is the hallmark of the monarchy as an institution.
On my birthday last January, when I reached the age of seventy-six, I decided the time had come to prepare for a change within a few months, to make way for the person who is perfectly equipped to guarantee this stability.
The Prince of Asturias has all the maturity, the preparation and the sense of responsibility necessary to perform the role of Head of State and to open up a new era of hope, bringing together the experience acquired and the drive of a new generation. And in this, I am sure, he can rely on the unfailing support of Princess Letizia.
For all these reasons, in order to render the best possible service to the Spanish people, and having recovered physically and resumed my institutional activity, I have decided to end my reign and to abdicate the Crown of Spain, in accordance with the procedure by which the Government and Parliament must make the succession effective, under the Constitutional provisions.
This morning, I officially informed the President of the Government of this decision.
I wish to express my gratitude to the Spanish people, to all those who have represented the powers and the institutions of the State during my reign and to all those who have helped me, generously and loyally, to fulfil my duties.
And my gratitude to the Queen, whose help and generous support have never failed me.
I hold Spain dear to my heart, where it will always remain.