DISGRACED former king Juan Carlos I has extended his current visit to Spain so that he can undergo medical checks. The father of current monarch Felipe VI arrived in Galicia last week for a sailing competition, marking only the second time he has been on Spanish soil since going into self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi back in August 2020. 

The self-styled ‘emeritus king’, who abdicated the throne in 2014, travelled to Sanxenxo in the northwestern province of Pontevedra last Tuesday after first stopping off in London. There he attended a Champions League football game between Real Madrid and Chelsea. 

He did not, however, meet with King Charles III as had been rumoured. In fact, Buckingham Palace sources made clear that all of the reports that a private lunch was going to take place between the pair, who are distant cousins, were ‘pure speculation’. 

Sources close to Juan Carlos confirmed on Sunday to the Spanish press that he had travelled to the capital of the Basque Country region, Vitoria, where he would be subject to medical checks. 

His current visit has been a lot more low key than the first time that he returned to Spain, around a year ago. 

On that occasion he also travelled to Sansenxo to sail but his presence in Galicia turned into a media circus. 

Famously, Juan Carlos was asked during that visit by a reporter whether he had any explanations about his decision to leave Spain to live in Abu Dhabi, given the accusations of financial impropriety that he was facing. 

‘Explanations, what for?’ he responded, speaking from the passenger seat of a vehicle. 

The response angered many Spaniards and commentators, given the accusations of financial impropriety that were being levelled against him. 

This time, however, Juan Carlos has avoided making any comments to the media at all. 

His presence in Spain is not just an embarrassment for the Royal Family, which under Felipe VI has sought to distance itself from Juan Carlos, but also the Spanish government. 

Socialist Party Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has in the past called on the former monarch to give the Spanish public an explanation for his behaviour. 

Botswana hunting trip

Juan Carlos abdicated the throne after revelations that he had broken his hip while on a hunting trip in Botswana with a former lover of his, Corinna Larsen, at a time when Spaniards were suffering the hardships of austerity and an economic downturn. 

He left the country bound for Abu Dhabi in August 2020 after prosecutors in Spain and Switzerland began investigating accounts in tax havens that he was allegedly linked to. 

While those probes have since been shelved – Juan Carlos was found to enjoy immunity at the time of some of the offences, while the statute of limitations had also expired – a possible return to Spain is still something that is opposed by the government and reportedly the Royal Household. 

Sources close to the former monarch said earlier this year that he had been ‘banned’ from residing in the Zarzuela, which is the royal family’s palace.

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