In the midst of concerns about the flare-up of the corona pandemic, the Spaniards can indulge in a royal drama in various companies these days. The most recent deed was performed on Monday. In a letter to the current Spanish king Felipe VI, his retired predecessor Juan Carlos announced that he was leaving the country.
The move comes as no surprise. For weeks, the Spanish government has been pushing Felipe VI to take tough measures against his father. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s team insisted at least on the banishment of the 82-year-old retired monarch from Zarzuela’s Palace in Madrid, but never hinted that a voluntary departure abroad was an even better choice for her.
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I am convinced that I will best serve the Spaniards, the institutions and you as king by leaving Spain now.
In the letter to his son, Juan Carlos states that he realizes that ‘certain events from my private life have repercussions’. “I am ready to take action to facilitate the performance of your duties,” writes the retired monarch.
“I am convinced that I will best serve the Spaniards, the institutions and you as king by leaving Spain now,” he continues. Juan Carlos adds that his departure is “an informed decision.” By disappearing from the picture now, the eighties hope to protect his ‘legacy as king’ and his ‘own dignity as a human being’.
Felipe VI accepts his father’s decision. In a statement, the Royal Palace recalls the “historical value” of Juan Carlos’s kingship. He took the throne in late 1975, days after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. The descendant of the Borbón dynasty has held that position for just under forty years.
At that time, Spain turned from a dictatorship to a democracy. The country was given a new constitution and the Spaniards were given the opportunity to elect their representatives directly.
During the last years of his reign, Juan Carlos was discredited, among other things by amorous escapades. He seemed to go from one scandal to another affair. In 2012, he fell on an elephant hunt in Botswana and broke his right hip. He appeared, with a mistress, to be on an exclusive safari paid for by businessmen at a time when his countrymen were groaning under a severe economic crisis.
During the last years of his reign, Juan Carlos was discredited, among other things by amorous escapades.
Since then, things have gone from bad to worse. The king not only appeared in the infamous Panama Papers, but also turned out to have a series of Swiss bank accounts. It is these accounts that the Geneva public prosecutor’s office is investigating and which lead Juan Carlos to voluntary exile.
In his letter, the retired king leaves open whether he has left his homeland for good. He may hope to be able to return as soon as the dust has settled over the series of affairs.