Operation: King Juan Carlos. Photo: Getty Images
Spain's royal palace has denied rumours that King Juan Carlos had plans to abdicate, soon after announcing that he was to undergo a third hip operation.
Speculation the ailing monarch would pass the crown to son Prince Felipe was rife on Spanish news websites, and circulated on social media. This is his eighth episode of surgery in just over three years.
Juan Carlos, 75, walks with a cane and has appeared more frail in recent months. Both of his hips have been replaced, and in March he had an operation on a spinal disc hernia.
Head of the royal household Rafael Spottorno said the king had ''at no time'' considered abdication, despite being examined by doctors over recent weeks due to pain in his left hip.
Juan Carlos is respected for his role in steering Spain to democracy after the death of longtime dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975. But over the past two years, he has suffered health problems as well as a corruption scandal implicating his daughter Cristina, whose tax affairs are being investigated.
The king's son-in-law, Cristina's husband Inaki Urdangarin, has been under investigation since late 2011 for alleged embezzlement. He has been charged with tax fraud and embezzling €6 million in public funds through his charitable foundation.
The first of the king's hip replacements came after he fell during an elephant-hunting holiday in Botswana. Sympathy for his injury was overshadowed by popular anger that he had taken the trip during the recession. The king had a benign tumour removed from a lung in May 2010.
In 2011, he was given an artificial right knee and had a torn Achilles tendon repaired.
In March this year he underwent back surgery to treat a slipped disc.
Despite his operations and opinion polls showing his popularity fell last year, the king insisted in a televised interview in January that he had ''energy and hope'' to continue ruling.
Earlier this year a poll showed that 50 per cent of Spaniards thought the king should step down in favour of his son.