Juan Carlos I to return to Spain this year

by Lorraine Williamson
King Juan Carlos I may leave Abu Dhabi

Juan Carlos I is considering travelling to Spain in the coming weeks, before the end of the year. He intends to as soon as the Supreme Court prosecutor’s office decides to close the investigations into his foreign accounts. 

Juan Carlos told acquaintances this, without giving details of whether he will definitely be returning from Abu Dhabi (UAE). He also did not say where he would be staying. Now it has emerged the Public Prosecutor’s Office may not extend the investigation into him. Therefore, ‘the Emeritus King believes he can return to Spain’. 

Prosecutors are inclined to dismiss his case because of the immunity the emeritus king enjoyed during his reign. Therefore, this would absolve him of responsibility for the commissions he allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. This relates to the construction of the AVE high-speed rail link to Mecca.  

The two tax regularisations worth €5.3 million also close the door to a possible crime. However, this is as long as it is not proven that he has been diverting money to tax havens. 

Departure to Abu Dhabi 

Juan Carlos left for Abu Dhabi on 3 August last year. This was after the Spanish Royal House, with the agreement of the government, had decided that his temporary departure, pending the outcome of the investigation, was in Spain’s best interests. King Felipe VI left it to his father to choose a destination abroad.

Initially, Juan Carlos considered settling in Portugal, but according to the Spanish royal family, that was a little too close to Spain. Juan Carlos then decided to move to the emirate at the invitation of the Abu Dhabi authorities.

Here I am not a burden to the Spanish crown,’ Don Juan Carlos justified his choice in the book Mi rey destronado (My dethroned king), published this week by the French writer Laurence Debray, who visited him in Abu Dhabi in the spring.   

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Speculation about whereabouts 

It is unlikely that Juan Carlos will return to the Zarzuela Palace, where he lived for more than 57 years. According to reports, the Spanish government is studying the possibility of having him live in a property belonging to Spain’s Patrimonio Nacional, the national heritage administered by the state, given that he has been head of state and retains the title of king for life.  

Those close to Juan Carlos I do not rule out going to Portugal. There, according to sources, he has ‘many friends and is very much loved’. From the neighbouring country, he could easily travel to Sanxenso (Pontevedra), one of his favourite destinations, where his sailing friends live and where he could practise one of his great hobbies again: sailing aboard his sailing yacht ‘Bribón’. Another option would be to live with his eldest daughter, Infanta Elena, in his flat in Madrid, but as it is in the centre of the city, he would have to live more in the open 

Good health 

Don Juan Carlos, who will turn 84 on January 5 next year, claims to be in good health, which he attributes to the fact that he has been exercising every day and has lost 12 kilos. But despite the fact that he has had regular physiotherapy sessions. 

However, his mobility is still quite weak and he needs a cane to walk. At his villa in Abu Dhabi, he was assisted by three assistants paid by the state agency Patrimonio Nacional, as well as a few local servants arranged by his hosts to carry out household chores  

Up to date with the Spanish news 

Don Juan kept abreast of the news in Spain all the time and was in constant contact with his closest friends via telephone and Whatsapp. He received visits from his daughters, Elena and Cristina, and from friends, including the journalist Carlos Herrera. 

In the book published about him, Juan Carlos revealed that he followed the mass celebrated at Zarzuela Palace via the internet and, after watching the funeral of Philip of Edinburgh, husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, confessed: ‘It is time to think of my own funeral’. 

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