King to celebrate 75th birthday in private

Monarch says he feels “in good form” after a series of minor operations

In keeping with Spain's austerity drive, King Juan Carlos I will celebrate his 75th birthday in private Saturday, rather than hold an official event.

The monarch told the state broadcaster TVE that he feels “in good form.” Juan Carlos’s health has been a topic of discussion after he sustained a hip injury during a hunting accident and had to undergo several surgeries. Before that, he had minor lung, knee and foot operations.

Five years ago, the king celebrated his birthday in private, too, but four days later he entertained nearly 500 guests at El Pardo Palace, including many politicians who made the transition to democracy possible. Juan Carlos himself is credited with halting an anti-democratic coup attempt in February, 1981.

On occasion of the birthday, many Spanish personalities spoke out to congratulate the king. Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas described him as “unpretentious and approachable.”

Although the monarchy has enjoyed good standing among Spaniards for decades, a series of recent crises has tarnished its image, ranging from the king’s elephant hunt in Botswana to the alleged corrupt business practices of his son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín.

The monarch will resume his public activities on Sunday.