King Juan Carlos vows to take things "very easy" during convalescence

Spain's King Juan Carlos waves as he leaves the Hospital Quiron San Jose on Dec. 2, 2012, in Madrid.

Spain's 74-year-old monarch, King Juan Carlos, was discharged from a Madrid hospital Sunday with promises to take it "very easy" during his recuperation.

The king has been in the hospital since he underwent reconstructive surgery on his left hip joint on Nov. 23. His family, including his wife, Queen Sofia, and son and heir, Crown Prince Felipe, have been visiting him during his nine-day hospital stay.

Juan Carlos joked with journalists as he left the hospital Sunday in the front passenger seat of a chauffeur-driven car, promising to "take things very easy" during his recuperation.

A hospital statement says the king had "very satisfactorily completed the first phase of his rehabilitation."

This is the king's sixth surgery in two years, including two operations last spring to repair fractures to his right hip joint sustained during a controversial elephant hunting safari in Botswana. He later apologized for taking such an extravagant vacation while Spain was in economic turmoil.

The king has had several other health issues recently, including knee surgery and the removal of a benign lung tumor.