Spanish king hobbles out of hospital, again

27th April 2012, Comments 0 comments

Spain's King Juan Carlos left hospital Friday, the palace said, after a second hip operation in two weeks following an African elephant hunting expedition that went horribly wrong.

The 74-year-old monarch emerged from a Madrid hospital after treatment for dislocation of the right hip, said a statement by the operating surgeon and the palace physician.

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

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, coming at a time when millions of Spaniards are suffering in recession, and the fact that he was hunting big game, despite being honorary president of the Spanish branch of the wildlife charity WWF.

The king dislocated his troublesome hip and was back under the surgeon's knife after making a "wrong movement", the palace said.

"His Majesty the King was discharged at 11 am (0900 GMT), 12 hours after the operation he had last night at the San Jose Hospital for a dislocation of the right hip," said the statement.

"The patient was observed overnight and made very satisfactory progress," it said, adding that he would need to be seen over the next few weeks and undergo physiotherapy.

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 previous exit from hopital.

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

Juan Carlos has suffered a troublesome few months marked by an embarrassing corruption scandal implicating his son-in-law, the Duke of Palma, Inaki Urdangarin.

In the wake of the Urdangarin scandal, the king said in his Christmas speech that public figures should observe "appropriate behaviour".

In addition, the king's 13-year-old grandson shot himself in the foot, literally, on April 9 sparking a scandal because he is below the legal age for using a firearm.

The boy, Felipe Marichalar Borbon, shot himself while learning to use a shotgun on the family's estate in Soria, north-central Spain, the royal household disclosed this month.

© 2012 AFP

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