Amid a corruption scandal, former Spanish king Juan Carlos has announced he is leaving the country and moving abroad, according to an open letter released by the royal palace on Monday.
Juan Carlos said he was taking the decision to make it easier for his son, King Felipe, to perform his duties.
Juan Carlos' popularity has plummeted in recent months as he has become implicated in a scandal about illegal payments from a Spanish consortium for the construction of a high-speed train in Saudi Arabia.
The decision was made "in light of the public repercussions that certain past events have caused," wrote Juan Carlos, 82, in the letter.
"It is a decision that I am taking with deep emotion, but also with great calm," he added.
His destination has not been disclosed.
The country's highest court ruled on June 8 that investigations could begin into the former monarch. He is also being probed by Swiss authorities.
Juan Carlos enjoyed immunity from prosecution for the four decades he was head of state of Spain, from November 1975 to June 2014. Although the alleged bribe was paid in 2008, Juan Carlos is being investigated for possible money laundering in the post-2014 period, in connection with the scandal.
The high-speed line between Mecca and Medina, built by several Spanish companies, was inaugurated in October 2018.
Calls to abolish monarchy
The concern in royal circles has been that, aside from tarnishing Juan Carlos' legacy, the scandal could also damage the popularity of Felipe. Calls for the abolition of the monarchy have recently become louder and louder.
The Spanish daily "El Mundo", which is usually very well-informed about the monarchy, said the decision was made primarily by Felipe. According to the newspaper, the royal house had effectively forced Juan Carlos to leave Spain.
Juan Carlos, once hailed for his role in Spain's transition to democracy at the end of fascist rule, abdicated in 2014 after a controversy about going on an elephant-hunting trip at the height of the financial crisis.