Juan Carlos I returns to Spain after a year

by Lorraine Williamson
Juan Carlos I

MADRID – This Wednesday, the Spanish king emeritus Juan Carlos I returns to Spain almost a year after his first visit. It is the second time since his departure to Abu Dhabi that the controversial former king has returned to his country. 

He has been residing in Abu Dhabi since August 2020. Like last year, he will attend the sailing championship in Sanxenxo (Pontevedra). His ship, the ‘Bribón’, participates in this. The emeritus king is expected to land in Vigo at noon today on a private flight. He intends to conduct his stay at his discretion. 

Also read: Another child out of wedlock for Juan Carlos I? 

Juan Carlos I is fresh from London. He has been seen there in recent days at a dinner with friends at the exclusive Oswalds club and at Real Madrid’s game against Chelsea that took place on Tuesday. TVE confirmed his presence in a VIP box at Stamford Bridge stadium together with Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez. 

Second visit since 2020 

Juan Carlos de Borbón has been living in Abu Dhabi since August 2020. At that time, he left Spain after sending a letter to King Felipe VI. In it, he justified his decision because of the public repercussions of “certain past events” in his private life. He was referring to information about his affairs abroad and the decision of the Supreme Court prosecutor’s office to investigate him. The former king has been linked to fraud and corruption cases. 

After carrying out two tax regularisations for which he paid the Treasury more than €4.6 million, the prosecutor’s office finally submitted the investigations into his finances. In December 2021, the Swiss prosecution also filed another case related to a $100 million gift from Saudi Arabia to the emeritus king and the alleged commission he subsequently made to his alleged ex-mistress Corinna Larsen. Since then, with the clearer legal outlook, speculation about his possible return to Spain began. 

Last year’s visit 

In May 2022 he was able to return for a few days to Sanxenxo, one of the most touristic towns in the Rías Baixas and a well-known destination for Don Juan Carlos for his love of sailing regattas. 

Unlike the previous visit, this time his return is shrouded in more secrecy. Furthermore, no one in his most intimate circle has confirmed any details about his stay. The mayor of Sanxenxo, Telmo Martín, has assured that he has “no official news” about the arrival of Juan Carlos I. However, TVE was able to confirm that Don Juan Carlos will again stay at the house of a close friend. 

His previous visit caused divisions within the government, criticism from the left and support from the opposition. Last year, the government would have liked the emeritus to take the opportunity for some act of contrition. However, this did not happen. In fact, when journalists asked about it, Juan Carlos I blurted out: “Explanations for what?” 

Now, before the new visit, the government maintains its position that the emeritus should explain to the Spaniards about his past behaviour, but has avoided commenting on his return, a matter that falls within the “private sphere”. 

No gatherings in Zarzuela 

On the other hand, a meeting with his son Felipe VI in the Zarzuela Palace is excluded for the time being. However, he did have a family gathering there in 2022. The royal family does not want to comment on the new travel plans to Spain, because it is a private trip. 

In September, Felipe VI and Juan Carlos I met again in the first public act since the emeritus king moved to Abu Dhabi. This was for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. They met again months later at the death of the former King Constantine of Greece, Doña Sofía’s brother. 

Read also: Former king Juan Carlos I leaves Spain for good 

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