Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona

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Infante Juan
Count of Barcelona
J. de Borbón.jpg
Don Juan de Borbón in 1959
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
SpousePrincess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Full name
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 restored.

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

Don Juan became heir-apparent to the defunct Spanish throne after the renunciations of his two older brothers, Alfonso and Jaime, both in 1933. To assert his claim to the throne, after 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 enter Spain and participate in the uprising but, near the French border, General Mola arrested him and sent him back.

When General Francisco Franco declared Spain a monarchy in 1947, he characterised it as a restoration. However, Franco was afraid that Don Juan would turn out to be too liberal and roll back the Spanish State. As a result, in 1969, Franco passed over Don Juan, who would have been king if the monarchy had continued uninterrupted, in favour of his son Juan Carlos, who Franco believed would be more likely to continue the Francoist State after his death. Don Juan Carlos later surprised many by his support of democratising Spain. Franco and Don Juan did not have a good relationship, with the Count constantly pressing Franco to restore the monarchy. Relations soured further when Juan called Franco an "illegitimate usurper", while Franco claimed he had a stronger claim to rule Spain than did Don Juan.

Don Juan formally renounced his rights to the Crown eight years after being displaced as recognised heir to the throne by Franco, and two years after his son Don 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.




  1. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ "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