Former Spanish King, Juan Carlos I, Has Left The Country In Exile
The lives of royals are among some of the most interesting to the media. Although not as mainstream as the recent goings-on at Buckingham Palace, new developments that surround the Spanish crown have captivated news reporters for a few days now as the country's former king, Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor María de Borbón y Borbón, now 82, recently left the country in exile. Many speculate about his current whereabouts, with some outlets reporting that he had gone to Portugal before heading on to the Dominican Republic. While there is currently no official statement regarding the ex-king's location, his lawyers do assure media that he is ready and willing to be interviewed by prosecutors, if necessary.
The former king, who sat at the Spanish throne for 40 years between 1975 to 2014, had been among the most popular figureheads in Spain. After the death of right-wing dictator, General Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos had guided the country through a pivotal era in politics. Instead of listening to the General's supporters who rallied for an extension to his autocratic rule, Juan Carlos ushered in a new system of parliamentary monarchy.
Many Spaniards had rallied behind the former king, Juan Carlos. However, corruption scandals have left his reputation tarnished. Notably, the king had gotten into hot water in 2012 after it was discovered that he had been on a lavish elephant hunting trip in Botswana amidst an economic crisis in Spain. He had reportedly flown back to Madrid via private jet after falling and breaking his hip.
Two years later in 2014, the king had abdicated, giving up the position to his son, King Felipe VI. Yet, the scandals continue as Juan Carlos is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal involving a €6.7 billion train deal with Saudi Arabia. The train deal, won by a Spanish consortium, would have connected the Saudi cities of Medina and Mecca. Reports, however, say that Juan Carlos transferred a significant amount of money, around €65 million, to offshore Swiss accounts under his former mistress' name. Currently, the Spanish and Swiss anti-corruption officials are aiming to prove that the ex-king was involved in the deal after his abdication in 2014, which is also after he had lost his immunity from prosecution.
The ex-king's decision to go under self-exile came as tensions rose over such alleged transgressions. In a letter written to his son, King Felipe VI, Juan Carlos had stated that his decision was made to help his son "exercise his responsibilities" as king, with "tranquility".
Since then King Felipe VI has cut his father's annual stipend (amounting to USD228,000) and has also renounced his personal inheritance after reports came in that it involved millions of euros from an offshore fund with ties to Saudi Arabia. The former king's wife, Queen Sofia, is still currently at Zarzuela Palace and serving at her foundation, Casa Real.
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