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The Spanish royal family

From left: King Juan Carlos I, Princess Leonor, King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, Princess Sofia, Queen Sofia.

The Bourbon, or Borbón, family has sat on the Spanish throne almost uninterruptedly since the year 1700, when Philip V became king following almost two centuries of Habsburg rule. The last Habsburg monarch, Charles II, died without issue and named Philip, a grandson of French king Louis XIV, his successor. The Habsburgs had ruled Spain since 1516 when Charles I of the Netherlands - later crowned Holy Roman Emperor Charles V - succeeded his maternal grandfather, Ferdinand II.

The current king, Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor María de Borbón y Borbón, acceded to the throne on November 22, 1975, and is credited with being a key player in Spain's smooth transition into a democracy.

Juan Carlos' grandfather, Alfonso XIII, had been forced to leave the country following the 1931 elections, and when his grandson arrived in Spain in 1947 - fulfilling his father's wish that he receive a Spanish education in the hope that the Borbón dynasty would return to the throne - it was for the first time. Twenty one years later he was named future monarch of Spain.

The handsome young Spaniard was married to Princess Sofia of Greece on May 14, 1962, and the couple have three children: Elena, born in 1963, Cristina, born in 1965, and the heir to the throne, Prince Felipe, who was born in 1968. Between them, his daughters have given the king five grandchildren, on which he dotes. The popular Prince of the Asturias married former newsreader Letizia Ortiz in May 2004.

The official royal website can be found at