King Juan Carlos makes final appearance as head of armed forces in Spain

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King Juan Carlos has appeared in public as head of Spain’s military for the last time before handing over the throne to his son Prince Felipe.

But as they marked Armed Forces Day in Madrid, a new survey in the national media suggested that 62 percent of Spaniards want a referendum on whether the monarchy should remain at all.

King for almost 40 years, Juan Carlos helped smooth the transition to democracy after the Franco dictatorship but in recent years, amid growing economic hardship in Spain, he has seemed increasingly out of touch.

Royal scandals have multiplied as have health problems for the 76-year-old who announced his abdication last Monday.

More popular than his father, Felipe will have to combat increasing anti-monarchist feeling, especially among the young, with mass demonstrations nationwide demanding a republic be restored.

The soon-to-be-crowned king has led a low-key private life with his commoner wife, divorcee former TV journalist Letizia Ortiz, and two children, and is often seen at a cinema in central Madrid or taking his daughters to school.

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