Sailing trip of Juan Carlos I attracts a lot of media attention in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
Juan Carlos I on a sailing trip

PROVINCIA DE PONTEVEDRA – Amid great interest, the former king of Spain left the marina of Sanxenxo on Wednesday around noon to participate in a sailing trip through the Rías Baixas on his yacht Bribón. 

The 84-year-old former king, who abdicated in 2014 in favour of his son, King Felipe VI, was surrounded by a throng of reporters and photographers from the moment he stepped out of the car. The sailing trip was reportedly a private excursion organised by friends of the former king and not an official activity. He was seen boarding the ship dressed in a white shirt, gilet and cap. 


After a series of scandals, Juan Carlos I went into self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in 2020. In his own words, he would like to protect the kingship of his son and the reputation of the royal house. 

Since then, the former king has largely remained out of the public eye. Only occasionally did he appear in public. His sailing trip on Wednesday was therefore received with great enthusiasm by the Spanish media. 

Some media suggest the former king’s excursion is intended as a message to his detractors, who accused him of fleeing Spain to escape justice. Others suggest it was simply an opportunity for the emeritus king to indulge in an activity he has long loved. 

Juan Carlos I 

Emeritus King Juan Carlos I is an important figure in Spain’s modern history. He came to power in 1975 after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco. Moreover, he was respected as a key architect of Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. 

During his 39-year reign, Juan Carlos I was popular with the Spanish people. This was especially for his role in promoting democratic reforms and encouraging economic growth in the country. 

However, in recent years, the former king has become the centre of several controversies and scandals. Some of them are related to alleged financial crimes, while others are linked to alleged corruption connected to business deals and political donations. 

In 2020, Juan Carlos I decided to leave the country and went into exile in the United Arab Emirates. This happened after a judicial investigation was launched into his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal. His departure from Spain was controversial and sparked debate over the future of the Spanish monarchy. 

Yet Juan Carlos I is still an important figure in Spain, even after his departure from the country. He remains a symbol of the transition to democracy and is still an influential representative of Spain abroad. 

Related post: Juan Carlos back in Spain after a year 

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