Hundreds protest return of Spain’s exiled ex-king Juan Carlos

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Madrid on Sunday against tarnished former king Juan Carlos I, whose visit to Spain after almost two years of self-imposed exile in the UAE has sparked criticism.

Hundreds protest return of Spain's exiled ex-king Juan Carlos
Protesters hold a Republican flag during an anti-monarchy demonstration in Madrid on May 22, 2022, coinciding with the return to Spain of former king Juan Carlos I. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

Holding signs reading “Justice” and “The Borbón in prison”, the demonstrators gathered near the Spanish capital’s royal palace. A government spokesman put their number at 300.

Juan Carlos this week returned to Spain for the first time since August 2020 to attend a regatta, after investigations into alleged corruption and money laundering were shelved in March.

The 84-year-old was admired for his role in Spain’s democratic transition following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, but revelations about the opaque origins of his fortune have tarnished his reputation among many Spaniards.

Demonstrators wave a flag of the Second Spanish Republic as they gather to protest against the visit of Spain’s former King to attend the regatta of the InterRias trophy of 6M Spanish Cup, in the Galician town of Sanxenxo, northwestern Spain, on May 21st, 2022. Photo: Brais Lorenzo/AFP

The former monarch is due to visit his son King Felipe VI in Madrid on Monday before returning to the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi, his new permanent residence.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s government still expects “explanations” from Juan Carlos, who abdicated in favour of Felipe in 2014. Media reports say the government opposes his staying at the Zarzuela Palace, Felipe’s official residence.

But in the northwestern port of Sanxenxo, where Juan Carlos competed in the regatta this weekend, dozens of onlookers welcomed him, shouting “Long live the king, long live Spain!”.

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Spain’s former king wins permission to appeal in harassment case

Spain's former king Juan Carlos I on Monday won permission to appeal against a London court ruling that allowed his former lover to bring a harassment case against him.

Spain's former king wins permission to appeal in harassment case

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 58, is seeking civil personal injury damages from the 84-year-old monarch, who lives in the United Arab Emirates.

In March, a High Court judge rejected Juan Carlos’ claim that he had state immunity and that English courts had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Judge Matthew Nicklin ruled that he was no longer a member of the royal household of his son, the current Spanish King Felipe VI, that would give him legal protection.

But two judges at the Court of Appeal have now allowed him to challenge the ruling about whether he had immunity before his abdication in 2014.

Court documents claim that the pair were in an “intimate romantic relationship” between 2004 and 2009, and that he showered her with gifts, even after they broke up.

The case was adjourned without a date for a full hearing being set.

Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Say alleges that Juan Carlos harassed her after she declined to rekindle the relationship, using threats, break-ins at her properties and surveillance.

Lawyers for the Danish businesswoman accuse him of trying to frustrate her claim.

Juan Carlos, who appeared in court documents under his full name Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor María De Borbón y Borboón, strenuously denies the allegations.