Juan Carlos I arrived in Spain | A brief visit that makes you cringe

(Sanxenxo) In exile for almost two years in the United Arab Emirates after accusations of embezzlement, ex-king Juan Carlos Ier arrived Thursday evening in Spain, where this first visit of a few days is drawing a lot of criticism.

Posted at 3:51 p.m.

Anahí ARADAS, with Mathieu GORSE in Madrid
France Media Agency

The former monarch’s plane, a private jet from Abu Dhabi, landed shortly after 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT) at the small airport in Vigo, Galicia, northwestern Spain, and Juan Carlos Ier slowly descended with the help of a cane, before being welcomed on the tarmac by his eldest daughter, the Infanta Elena, noted an AFP journalist.

Many media and curious people had made the trip to try to see behind the fences of the airport the ex-king, 84 years old, who has not set foot in Spain since August 2020 and whose return has spill a lot of ink.

Dressed in a navy blue jacket and beige pants, Juan Carlos Ier then went to Sanxenxo, where he will attend a regatta this weekend in which the “Bribon”, the sailboat with which he was world champion in 2017, will participate.

Upon his arrival in the city, the former sovereign greeted from the car the crowd gathered in front of the house where he will be staying, and raised his thumb to the sky to signify that he was well.

If Juan Carlos Ier saw the inquests against him dropped in March, revelations about the opaque origin of his fortune have permanently undermined the image of this figure adored for decades for leading Spain’s democratic transition after the dictator’s death Frank in 1975.

“The information we have had in recent years” about Juan Carlos “is very worrying […] for the (monarchical) institution” and “I believe that he will have to give explanations without a doubt”, insisted Thursday the Minister of Economy and number two in the government, Nadia Calviño, on radio Cadena Ser.

He will then travel to Madrid on Monday to see his son, King Felipe VI, and his wife Sofia, before leaving the same day for Abu Dhabi “where he has established his permanent and stable residence”, insisted Wednesday evening the palace.

Before ensuring that Juan Carlos, who now intends to return “regularly to Spain” to see “his family and friends”, will always stay “in a private place of residence”.

The government opposed to a stay in the palace

According to the Spanish media, the government of the socialist Pedro Sánchez was, in fact, fiercely opposed to the fact that he could be accommodated in the Zarzuela Palace, the official residence of the sovereign, who is the head of state.

Member of the ruling coalition, the radical left party Podemos fired red balls at the former sovereign.

“Anyone returning to our country with the history of King Juan Carlos Ier would be arrested at the border and brought to justice”, he denounced Thursday on Twitter.

On the right, the leader of the Popular Party Alberto Núñez Feijóo, on the other hand, defended the “right” of Juan Carlos to “return to Spain” while the justice closed his investigations.

Many residents of Sanxenxo thought the same. “He did good things and I think he needs to come back to his family,” Ester del Río, 54, told AFP.

The ex-king, who abdicated in 2014 amid scandals, left Spain in August 2020 for Abu Dhabi after increasingly compromising revelations about his lifestyle and the opaque origin of his fortune.

He then explained that he wanted to “facilitate” Felipe VI “the exercise” of his functions in the face of “the public consequences of certain past events in (his) private life”.

Unable to prosecute him “because of the insufficiency of incriminating evidence, the prescription of offenses and the immunity” from which he benefited as head of state until 2014, the Spanish prosecutor’s office had closed in March the three investigations targeting him for suspicion of corruption or money laundering.

He had, however, highlighted the “tax irregularities” of which the former king had been guilty and which led him to carry out two tax adjustments for more than 5 million euros.

” Trouble ”

“There is no legal reason preventing the former king from traveling to Spain, but there is a flood of ethical reasons explaining the turmoil caused by the announcement of his trip”, underlined in an editorial El Paísthe country’s leading general-interest daily.

Trying to restore the image of the Spanish monarchy since his accession to the throne in 2014, Felipe VI has distanced himself from his father.

He thus decided in March 2020 to renounce the inheritance of his father and to withdraw his annual allowance of nearly 200,000 euros.

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