Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona

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Infante Juan
Count of Barcelona
Juan de Borbón. NL-HaNA 0 901-4072.jpg
Don Juan de Borbón in 1946
Head of the Royal House of Spain
Tenure15 January 1941 – 14 May 1977
PredecessorAlfonso XIII
SuccessorJuan Carlos I
Born(1913-06-20)20 June 1913
Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, San Ildefonso, Kingdom of Spain
Died1 April 1993(1993-04-01) (aged 79)
Navarra University Hospital, Pamplona, Kingdom of Spain
Burial7 April 1993
Spanish: Juan Carlos Teresa Silverio Alfonso de Borbón y Battenberg[1]
FatherAlfonso XIII of Spain
MotherVictoria Eugenie of Battenberg
ReligionRoman Catholic

Infante Juan of Spain, Count of Barcelona (Juan Carlos Teresa Silverio Alfonso de Borbón y Battenberg; 20 June 1913 – 1 April 1993), also known as Don Juan, was the third son and designated heir of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. His father was replaced by the Second Spanish Republic, and under his son, Juan Carlos I, a constitutional monarchy was installed.

Early life[edit]

Juan was born at the Palace of San Ildefonso. His father was forced into exile when the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed on 14 April 1931. Owing to the renunciations of his brothers Alfonso of Spain, Prince of Asturias, and Infante Jaime, Duke of Segovia, Infante Juan was thus next in line to the defunct Spanish throne. He thus received the title Prince of Asturias when he was serving with the British Royal Navy in Bombay.

In March 1935, he passed his naval exams in gunnery and navigation, which would have entitled him to become a lieutenant in the Royal Navy if he gave up his Spanish nationality. This, however, he refused to do.


He met his future wife at a party hosted by Victor Emmanuel III of Italy on the day before his sister (Infanta Beatriz) was to be married. He married Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (1910–2000), known in Spain as Doña María de las Mercedes de Borbón Dos-Sicilias y Orleans, in Rome on 12 October 1935.

Just before the birth of the Infante Juan Carlos, the Count of Barcelona decided to go hunting, with the doctor telling him and his wife that the future king would not be born for weeks. When he was told of the birth, he drove to the hospital so quickly that he broke an axle spring.


They had four children:

They lived in Cannes and Rome, and, with the outbreak of World War II, they moved to Lausanne to live with his mother, Queen Victoria Eugenie. Afterwards, they resided at Estoril, on the Portuguese Riviera.

Claim to the Spanish throne[edit]

Portrait by Philip de Laszlo, 1927

Juan became heir apparent to the defunct Spanish throne after the renunciations of his two older brothers, Alfonso and Jaime, in 1933. To assert his claim to the throne, following his father's death he used the title of Count of Barcelona, a sovereign title associated with the Spanish crown.

In 1936, his father sent him to participate in the Spanish Civil War but he was arrested near the French border, and sent back by General Emilio Mola.

On 19 March 1945 he announced a manifesto in Lausanne, demanding he replace Franco

Today, six years after the Civil War, the regime established by General Franco, inspired from the start by the totalitarian systems and the Axis powers, so contrary to the character and tradition of our people, is fundamentally incompatible with the circumstances, which the present war is creating in the world. The foreign policy followed by the regime is compromising the future of the nation. Spain runs the risk of being dragged into a new fratricidal conflict and of finding itself totally isolated from the world. The present regime, however hard it tries to adapt to the new situation, is responsible for this double danger. Moreover, a new republic, however moderate in its beginnings and its intentions, will not be long in shifting to one of the extremes, thus strengthening the other and finishing up in a new civil war. Only the traditional monarchy can be an instrument of peace and concord to reconcile Spaniards; it alone can obtain respect from abroad, by means of an effective state of law, and realize a harmonious synthesis of that order and freedom upon which is based the Christian concept of the state. Millions of Spaniards of the most varied ideologies are convinced of this truth and see in the monarchy the only saving institution.[2]

When General Francisco Franco declared Spain a monarchy in 1947, he characterized it as a "restoration". However, Franco was afraid that Juan would roll back the Spanish State because he favored constitutional monarchy, which would restore parliamentary democracy. As a result, in 1969, Franco passed over Juan in favour of Juan's son, Juan Carlos, who Franco believed would be more likely to continue the Francoist State after his death. Juan Carlos later surprised many by his support of democratising Spain. Franco and Juan did not have a good relationship, with the latter constantly pressing Franco to restore the monarchy. Relations soured further when Juan called Franco an "illegitimate usurper".

Juan formally renounced his rights to the Spanish throne eight years after being displaced as recognised heir to the throne by Franco, and two years after his son, Juan Carlos, had become king. In return, his son officially granted him the title of Count of Barcelona, which he had claimed for so long.

He was buried with honours due a King, in the Royal Crypt of the monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, near Madrid. His wife survived him by seven years.

He was fond of the sea, and joined the Naval School at San Fernando, Cádiz, and had tattoos of a marine theme from his time in the British Royal Navy.

Honours and arms[edit]





  1. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Real decreto nombrando Caballero de la Insigne Orden del Toisón de Oro a su Alteza Real el Srmo. Sr. Infante de España D. Juan Carlos Teresa Silverio Alfonso de Borbón" (PDF). Gaceta de Madrid (in Spanish). 19 May 1927.
  4. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  5. ^ a b Boletín Oficial del Estado
  6. ^ República Portuguesa
  7. ^ Sagrada Orden Constantiniana de San Jorge
  8. ^ a b García-Mechano y Osset, Eduardo (2010). Introducción a la heráldica y manual de heráldica militar española. Madrid: Ministerio de Defensa. ISBN 978-84-9781-559-8. pp. 105–107
  9. ^ "Coat of arms of Juan de Bourbon after his renounce at the emblem of the Frigate "Juan de Borbón"". Navy official coats of arms (in Spanish). Spanish Navy. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona
Cadet branch of the House of Capet
Born: 20 June 1913 Died: 1 April 1993
Spanish nobility
Preceded by
Alfonso XIII
Count of Barcelona
8 March 1941 – 1 April 1993
Succeeded by
Juan Carlos I
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Alfonso XIII
King of Spain
15 January 1941 – 14 May 1977
Reason for succession failure:
Republic proclaimed in 1931
Succeeded by
Juan Carlos I