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Juan Carlos, a once admirable king in tatters

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I admit it: Juan Carlos was once one of my heroes. But that was a long time ago now.

I was 17, living in Germany, and just starting to become interested in politics when the then still young King Juan Carlos appeared on TV screens. It was February 23, 1981, when part of the Spanish armed forces and the police attempted a coup against the still young democracy. Tanks drove through the streets, the parliament was occupied by the forces behind the coup and the government was crippled.

Read more: Has Spain's former king Juan Carlos I fled to the Dominican Republic?

Then, this young king, whom everyone had underestimated up to now, appeared before a camera in the uniform of the commander-in-chief of the Spanish armed forces and ordered the soldiers to return to their barracks immediately. The coup attempt collapsed before the next morning. Juan Carlos had saved Spanish democracy.

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© Deutsche Welle

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