SPAIN’S former king Juan Carlos I made a controversial return to his homeland this week, sparking a flurry of media attention and raising questions about the Spanish monarchy’s reputation.
The ex-king, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi for the past three years, arrived in Spain from London on Wednesday.
He had been expected to take tea with his British almost-counterpart and namesake King Charles III, but Buckingham Palace confirmed that this meeting did not take place.
His ostensible reason for his return to the homeland he fled in disgrace was to take part in a sailing championship in Galicia.
He competed in his yacht ‘Bribon’, which translates as ‘naughty’ or refers to someone who uses smarts and charm to break petty rules.
However, his visit has generated even more commotion than his last time in Spain, as he has returned without the consent of the Royal Family and amidst resentment from the Spanish Socialist government.
His family, including King Felipe and Queen Letizia, have made it clear they are not amused with the trip, and there is no meeting scheduled between father and son at the Zarzuela Palace.
Juan Carlos’ reputation has been in tatters since he abdicated in 2014 after almost 40 years on the throne and handed power to his son Felipe.
The scandals that have haunted Juan Carlos I, as well as reports stating the Royal Family fears the consequences of his actions, contrast with the former king’s attitude.
When asked by the press to explain his behaviour on his last trip to Spain, he gave a clear-cut answer: “Explanations for what?”.
The beginning of the end for Juan Carlos came in 2008, when pictures of him standing in front of dead elephants on a hunting holiday in Botswana were published by the Spanish press.
This trip was the first blow to his reputation, with the expensive vacation taking place during a deep financial crisis.
Six years later, Felipe took Juan Carlos’ annual allowance and renounced his own personal inheritance after Spain’s Supreme Court launched an investigation into Juan Carlos’ alleged involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia.
At the time, the Royal Family said they knew nothing about Juan Carlos’ activities.
Spanish prosecutors ended up closing all corruption investigations due to the lack of evidence.
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