Spanish king enters hospital for hip op

23rd November 2012, Comments 0 comments

Spain's 74-year-old King Juan Carlos entered hospital Friday to replace his right hip, after two operations on the other hip caused by a fall during an African elephant-hunting safari.

"Today I am definitely going into the workshop," the king joked to reporters as he entered the San Jose hospital in Madrid for an operation that will reportedly last two-to-three hours.

The monarch first revealed the operation during a Spain-Latin America summit in Cadiz, southern Spain, last week.

"The doctors told me to go straight to the operating table but I preferred to delay the operation for a week to be able to be with you, my Iberian-American brothers," he said.

It was the sixth operation in two years for the king.

On April 14, Madrid surgeons reconstructed his left hip and inserted an artificial joint after the king fell over during a safari vacation in Botswana, breaking the bone in three places.

Later the same month, they operated again after he dislocated the same joint.

Though widely respected for his role in steering the country to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, the king was harshly criticised for his Botswana hunting trip.

Many were angered by the extravagance of the holiday, at a time when millions of Spaniards are suffering in the recession.

The fact that he was hunting big game despite being honorary president of the Spanish branch of the wildlife charity WWF was also criticised.

The king made an unprecedented apology April 18 for taking the luxury hunting trip. "I am sorry. I made a mistake and it won't happen again," he said as television cameras recorded his exit from hospital on crutches.

The king had a benign tumour removed from a lung in May 2010. In June 2011 he was given an artificial right knee joint and three months later he had a torn Achilles tendon repaired.

In November 2011, the king wore sunglasses during official ceremonies. Palace officials said he had collided with a door.

© 2012 AFP

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