Spain's constitutional monarch King Juan Carlos I announced to mixed reactions that he will abdicate in favour of Crown Prince Philip, capping a nearly 40-year reign.
The question of when Juan Carlos might choose to step down had been a matter of speculation for many years, but particularly following a poorly handled public relations fiasco in 2012 over a lavish trip to Africa, a court investigation into one of his son-in-law's financial dealings and recent signs of physical frailty.
To take note of it precedes what are expected to be tight general elections next year and comes on the heels of this past weekend's announcement that the head of Spain's Socialist party, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, will not be in the running. In parallel, over the weekend Madrid announced a €6.3bn fiscal stimulus package.
Time for change?
The sovereign's age, the country's deep economic troubles and increasingly very divisive politics had in recent years undoubtedly taken their toll on the institution's standing amongst the population, despite his prominent and positive role in Spanish diplomacy, in particular.
Worth noting Spain is not a country where monarchical tendencies run deep and up until recently was considered by Spaniards themselves to have a certain bias towards the centre-left.
In fact, even amongst more conservative voters the monarchy has increasingly been the object of criticism for its failure - in the opinion of some - to step into the debate regarding independence movements in Catalonia or the Basque country.
All of the above comes ahead of next year's general elections, with some observers of the belief that the current political backdrop is too fraught with risks - what with an anaemic economic recovery and strong regional disputes - to hazard a change in the Head of State. Others, however, may have reached the conclusion that now was the best moment to attempt it.
But is it the best moment for change?
Thus, Crown Prince Felipe is thought to have a fairly good image and appears not to have been tainted by some of those aforementioned scandals.
However, the question remains about whether he will be able to command the same legitimacy as his father. Juan Carlos is widely thought to have been instrumental in the country's transition towards democracy after the death of military dictator Francisco Franco, in 1975, having put down an attempted coup early in his reign which fortunately won him the acceptance of most Spaniards.
For their part, analysts at BNP Paribas explained to clients that "the Spanish political system is already feeling the heat of Catalonia's recent call for a referendum on independence and the strong showing of hard-line nationalists in the recent EU elections".
In their opinion that could lead to a very fragmented Spanish parliament following the next general elections.
However, "longer term, the impact could be marginally positive for Spain, with opinion polls showing the prince to be more popular than the King," they added.
The ex-Editor of Spanish daily El Mundo, Pedro J. Ramirez, a widely respected political commentator, told TV broadcaster La Sexta that "the decision is a mistake because it is not due to the monarch's health but rather on political considerations. It sets a poor precedent for the monarchy".
On the other side of the political spectrum, the head of Spain's UGT union, Candido Mendez, welcomed the decision. In his opinion it opens a door to Constitutional reform.