Spain’s scandal-plagued former King Juan Carlos, 84, will end his two-year Middle East exile within days to visit family weeks after prosecutors scrapped criminal probes against him
Spain‘s scandal-hit former King Juan Carlos will bring his near two-year exile to an end this Saturday by returning from his Middle East bolthole, it was claimed today.
The news emerged after months of speculation the controversial royal would make a flying visit to see friends and family.
Juan Carlos’ son King Felipe VI failed to meet up with his father during an official visit to Abu Dhabi at the weekend to pass on his condolences following the death of the United Arab Emirates’ president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan aged 73.
Spain’s scandal-hit former King Juan Carlos will bring his near two-year exile to an end this Saturday by returning from his Middle East bolthole
The pair spoke by phone and arranged to meet up in Madrid at an unspecified date.
Veteran journalist Fernando Onega, who has written a book about the former Spanish King and is regarded in their homeland as a personal friend of the 84-year-old, identified this Saturday as the date of Juan Carlos’ return on Onda Cero radio programme Mas de Uno.
He said Juan Carlos would travel to the Galician resort of Sanxenxo, one of his favourite destinations where he has often been spotted in the past sailing with friends and family.
The former King’s’ shock departure from Spain in August 2020 led to an intense questioning of the country’s monarchy led by its then vice-president Pablo Iglesias.
His retreat came after Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into bank accounts allegedly held by Juan Carlos in tax havens.
Spain launched its own investigations based in part on information shared by Switzerland including one about cash the former king allegedly received as part of his involvement in a high-speed Saudi Arabia rail contract.
Juan Carlos’ son King Felipe VI failed to meet up with his father during an official visit to Abu Dhabi at the weekend (pictured)
Spanish royal expert Pilar Eyre claimed shortly after he left Spain and it emerged he was staying at the £3billion seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel that he was ‘in the arms’ of a long-time mistress at his hotel hideaway.
Juan Carlos, in a letter to Spain’s current king Felipe VI announcing his decision to leave his homeland, wrote ‘Guided by my conviction I can offer the best service to Spaniards, its institutions and to you as King, I am communicating my decision to move away from Spain.
‘It’s a decision I am taking with deep feeling but with great serenity.
‘I have been King of Spain for almost 40 years and during that whole time, I’ve always wanted the best for Spain and for the Crown.’
He signed off the letter: ‘With affection as always, your father.’
It later emerged he had already left Spain by the time the letter was released by the Royal Household.
In March Spanish state prosecutors paved the way for Juan Carlos’ temporary return to Spain by shelving the criminal probes against him, saying any alleged crimes were spent or his Head of State status at the time protected him from prosecution.
Juan Carlos has been staying at the £3billion seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel (pictured)
The decision was taken after he paid millions of pounds in tax regularisations.
Last week Spain dropped a probe into suspicions national firms paid kickbacks to build a high-speed rail link in Saudi Arabia.
Juan Carlos still faces a possible trial in the UK for harassing former lover Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.
She is suing him in the UK and High Court judge Mr Justice Nicklin ruled recently the claim can go ahead after throwing out his lawyers’ argument he is ‘entitled to immunity from the jurisdiction of the English courts in his capacity as a senior member of the Spanish royal family.’
Juan Carlos, who was groomed by Francisco Franco but played a key role in defeating a 1981 coup d’etat led by sympathisers of the late dictator, reigned as King of Spain from 1975 to 2014 when he abdicated in favour of his son.
The corruption scandals he has been caught up in since he handed over to King Felipe VI, whose wife Letizia is a former journalist, have left his reputation in tatters.
As well as Sanxenxo, Juan Carlos is also expected to spend time in Madrid.
He is expected to return to Abu Dhabi after his two-day visit, which has not yet been confirmed by Spain’s Royal Household but is being seen in Spain as an announcement sanctioned by Juan Carlos because of how it has been made public.