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Home News Spain’s ex-king to make brief return to Spain from exile

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

Published on 18/05/2022
Written by Alfons LUNA
Published from

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos will return to Spain this week after nearly two years in exile in the United Arab Emirates, the royal household said on Wednesday.

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 19 to Monday, May 23”, 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 “Bribon”, 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 Sanchez’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 euros.

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 Inaki Urdangarin, 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.