Royal scandal: the former king returns to Spain after two years

The former king of Spain will return to the country on Thursday for his first visit since leaving nearly two years ago amid a cloud of financial scandals.

The royal house said that Juan Carlos would first visit the city of Sanxenxo, in the northwest of the country, where a sailing event is scheduled.

She then plans to travel to Madrid on Monday to see her son, King Felipe VI, and other members of the royal family, the palace said in a statement issued late Wednesday.

The royal palace says the 84-year-old former monarch would return to his “permanent and stable residence” in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, on Monday.

He said his visit reflects Juan Carlos’s desire to “frequently travel to Spain to visit family and friends.”

Juan Carlos left Spain in August 2020 while Spanish and Swiss prosecutors investigated his involvement in alleged financial irregularities.

The scandals renewed the debate over whether Spain should have a monarchy. Spanish media said a private flight with the former monarch was expected to arrive in northwestern Spain in the early afternoon.

News of the imminent return of the former king divided opinion among the country’s politicians.

“I think that all Spanish citizens deserve an explanation,” Spain’s Economy Minister Nadia Calvino told the Ser network on Thursday.

Yolanda Díaz, the second deputy prime minister and a high-ranking member of the Unidos Podemos (United We Can) party, echoed that view.

“For me, it doesn’t matter where the king is,” he told reporters. “What I do believe, for the dignity of an institution like the Royal House – and this comes from someone who is not a monarchist – is that he should be held accountable and explain to the Spanish what he did while he was head of state. .”

Others said it was time to turn the page. “The prosecutors have already said that there were irregularities and that these irregularities are not subject to criminal prosecution,” said Edmundo Bal, a spokesman for the Ciudadanos party. “That’s it. Period.”

Spanish prosecutors found no evidence to bring the former monarch to court because much of the alleged misconduct, which involved millions of euros (dollars) in unreported accounts, occurred when Juan Carlos had legal immunity as king of Spain.

Other acts of potential fraud were left out of the statute of limitations. The investigations led to the recovery of 5.1 million euros ($5.4 million) in fines and taxes on income that Juan Carlos had failed to declare to Spanish tax authorities, prosecutors said in their findings. Swiss prosecutors also dropped their investigation.

Although Juan Carlos was not among the main subjects of the Swiss investigation, prosecutors said they found that he received $100m (£84m) from the Saudi finance ministry in 2008, before stepping down as king.

The investigation also revealed millions more received by the king or his former partner, Danish-German businesswoman Corinna Larsen. Since he became king in June 2014, Felipe VI has tried to distance himself from his father.

He took Juan Carlos off the payroll of the royal house to help rebuild the image of the Spanish crown. Juan Carlos served as king from November 1975 until he abdicated and his son took his place.

As monarch, Juan Carlos helped Spain return to democracy following the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975, making him one of Spain’s most respected public figures.

But scandals of one kind or another involving the family began to pile up in the last years of his reign. He abdicated in 2014, ending a 39-year term as monarch.

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