crown prince Felipe
Crown Prince Felipe will be the next king of SpainGetty Images

As Spanish King Juan Carlos abdicates after 39 years on the throne, in favour of his son Crown Prince Felipe, IBTimes UK looks at the life of the next king of Spain.

Born in Madrid in 1968, Prince Felipe is the third child and only son of King Carlos.

On 30 January 1986, at the age of 18, Felipe swore allegiance to the Constitution and to the King in the Spanish Parliament, fully accepting his institutional role as successor to the Crown.

After earning a degree in law at the Autonomous University of Madrid and a Master Degree of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Felipe started participating in official meetings in Spain, often standing in for his father when unable to attend.

Felipe often makes official visits to European countries and to Latin America, Middle East and Australia.

He also plays a very active role in the promotion of Spain's economic and commercial interests and of Spanish language and culture in foreign countries.

Felipe was a member of the Olympic sailing team at the Barcelona Games in 1992. He finished in sixth place in the soling class and obtained an Olympic diploma.

The future king of Spain is also honorary president of several associations and foundations, such as the Spanish branch of the Association of European Journalists.

Very active in voluntary work, he was named an "Eminent Person" by former UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan, during the UN declaration of 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers.

Felipe currently bears the official titles of Prince of Asturias, Prince of Gerona, Prince of Viana, Duke of Montblanc, Count of Cervera and Lord of Balaguer.

He speaks Spanish, Catalan, French, English and some Greek.

The Spanish prince got engaged to former CNN journalist Letizia Oritz in November 2003.

The couple married on 22 May 2004 in the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, with members of several European royal families attending.

The wedding was watched by more than 25 million television viewers in Spain alone, and was broadcast throughout the world.

The couple have two daughters, Leonor and Sofia.