General Interest 1975 Juan Carlos assumes power in Spain. Prince Juan Carlos becomes Spain’s acting head of state after General Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain since 1936, concedes that he is too ill too govern. The 83-year-old dictator had been suffering serious health problems for nearly a year. Three weeks after Juan Carlos assumed power, Franco died of a heart attack. Two days later, on November 22, Juan Carlos was crowned king. Juan Carlos’ grandfather was Alfonso XIII, the last ruling monarch of Spain, who was forced into exile in 1931 after Spain was declared a republic. Born in Italy in 1938, Juan Carlos returned to Spain in 1955 under the invitation of Franco and received a military education. In 1969, Franco designated Juan Carlos his successor. Despite having pledged loyalty to Franco’s authoritarian regime, King Juan Carlos immediately began a transition to democracy after Franco’s death in 1975.