Spain’s ex-king makes brief return to Spain from exile

Spain's former king Juan Carlos will return to Spain on Thursday after nearly two years in exile in the United Arab Emirates, the royal household confirmed on Wednesday.

Spain's ex-king makes brief return to Spain from exile
Juan Carlos will first head to the Galician town of Sanxenxo, where a regatta will take place from Friday featuring the "Bribón", a yacht with which he won the world title in 2017. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)

Juan Carlos, who abdicated against a backdrop of scandals over his finances and love life, had communicated “his decision to go to Spain from May 19th to Monday, May 23rd”, the Royal House said.

Juan Carlos will first head to the northwestern town of Sanxenxo, where a regatta will take place from Friday featuring the “Bribón”, a yacht with which he won the world title in 2017.

He will then travel to Madrid on Monday to visit his son King Felipe VI, his wife Sofia and other members of his family before leaving “the same day” for Abu Dhabi “where he has established his permanent and stable residence”, the palace said.

The visit is part of “His Majesty Juan Carlos’ desire to visit his family and friends regularly in Spain” in a “private” setting, the palace statement added.

The statement said Juan Carlos wanted to “facilitate” his son Felipe’s “exercise” of duties in view of “the public consequences of certain past events of (his) private life”.

Three investigations against him in Spain were finally closed in early March, paving the way for his eventual return.

Opaque wealth

But the visit has been criticised by the far-left Podemos party, which is part of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition government.

Even before Juan Carlos went into exile, Felipe decided in March 2020 to renounce his father’s inheritance and withdraw his annual allowance of nearly €200,000.

Juan Carlos’ choice of the UAE has stoked criticism, as his ties with the Gulf monarchies are at the centre of suspicions over his opaque wealth.

The excesses of the former monarch only came to light in the last years of his reign, triggering a string of investigations.

In the throes of a corruption scandal involving his son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín, Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of Felipe.

In the most significant case, Spanish prosecutors have sought since December 2018 to determine whether the 84-year-old pocketed a commission linked to a Spanish consortium’s construction of a railway in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi monarchy paid $100 million in 2008 into the Swiss account of a foundation to which Juan Carlos was a beneficiary.

But prosecutors said the money was a “gift” received by the king in his capacity as head of state, which could have constituted corruption.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spain’s king slammed over plans to attend Qatar World Cup

The junior partner in Spain's leftist coalition government on Monday criticised King Felipe VI's plans to visit Qatar later this week to attend the Spanish team's opening World Cup match.

Spain's king slammed over plans to attend Qatar World Cup

Host of global football’s premier event, wealthy Qatar has come under heavy criticism over its treatment of foreign workers and its rights restrictions on women and the LGBTQ community.

The presence of top government representatives at the tournament which kicked off on Sunday has been the subject of fierce debate in several European nations.

Gerardo Pisarello, a lawmaker with the hard-left Podemos party, told a news conference that it was “unfortunate” to hear the Royal Palace announce the king would travel to Qatar without “making any critical objections about what is happening there”.

“We have certainly never had a football World Cup raising so many questions about human rights abuses since the 1978 World Cup in Argentina,” which was organized under a military dictatorship, he added.

Podemos is the junior partner in Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition cabinet, which has governed Spain since January 2020.

It has long been critical of the monarchy, which it would like to see abolished.

Spain’s Royal Palace announced last week that the king would attend Spain’s opening match against Costa Rica on Wednesday.

Denmark has been one of the most vocal opponents of Qatar’s hosting of the tournament due to its human rights record.

Over the weekend, the Danish government announced that no ministers nor the Danish ambassador would attend the opening ceremony or any matches.