Spain's King Juan Carlos, who led Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy, will abdicate so his son Felipe can become the country's next monarch.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy did not say when the handover would happen because the government must now make a law creating a legal mechanism for the abdication.

King Juan Carlos came to power in 1975, two days after the death of General Franco. He was a hero to many for guiding Spain's democratic and economic transformation.

His popularity took a big blow following royal scandals, including an elephant-shooting trip in Botswana. His image was also tarnished by the investigation of his son-in-law, suspected of embezzling large amounts through public contracts.