Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor María de Borbón y Borbón was known as the King of Spain from 1975 to 2014. He acceded to the Spanish throne two days after the death of Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos was instrumental in Spain’s peaceful transition to democracy.
Juan Carlos is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, who was the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent declaration of the Second Spanish Republic. He was expected as Frano’s successor; however, when Carlos took the throne he introduced reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime and begin the Spanish transition to democracy soon after his accession. This led to the approval of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 in a referendum which re-established a constitutional monarchy.
The king remained popular with most Spaniards at home, but in the early 21st century his reign was tarnished by a corruption investigation involving Princess Cristina and her husband that shed light on the royal family’s finances. Juan Carlos also drew criticism for embarking on an elephant hunt in Botswana in 2012, a lavish trip at a time when the Spanish economy was in recession and many Spaniards faced unprecedented austerity.
In June of 2014, he formally abdicated in favour of his son, Felipe. Since August 2020, Juan Carlos has lived in self-exile from Spain over allegedly improper ties to business deals in Saudi Arabia.
A short return to the homeland
It has been two years since the former king announced his self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi amid an ongoing scandal over potential financial misconduct, but over the weekend the King Emeritus made a brief return to his former homeland. Arriving in the country on the 19th of May, Juan Carlos made a planned four-day stop-over in the country to visit family and friends and participate in a sailing regatta. It has been reported that he has departed Spain and returned to Abu Dhabi.
Juan Carlos also made a visit to the Zarzuela royal palace in Madrid to visit his wife, Queen Sofia, and their son, the current King Felipe VI. While his two daughters have reportedly visited the ex-monarch in Abu Dhabi since his exile, it was apparently his first meeting in two years with his wife and son.
The Saudia Arabia case
In December, Swiss prosecutors dropped a case against Juan Carlos over suspicions that he had received about $100 million in kickbacks in connection with a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was awarded to a Spanish consortium. After a three-year investigation, the Geneva prosecutor’s office concluded that it could not find evidence linking a payment into a Swiss bank account to the rail contract, but fined the bank over a reporting failure connected to the case.