Because if the former monarch, aged 84, saw the judicial investigations targeting him be closed in March, the revelations about the opaque origin of his fortune have definitively undermined the image of this figure adored for decades for having led Spain’s democratic transition after the death of dictator Franco in 1975.
“The information we have had in recent years” on Juan Carlos “is very worrying (…) for the (monarchical) institution” and “I believe that he will have to give explanations without a doubt”, insisted Thursday the Minister of Economy and number two in the government, Nadia Calviño, on radio Cadena Ser.
The former sovereign is due to arrive at the end of the day in Sanxenxo, in northwestern Spain, to attend a regatta this weekend in which the “Bribon”, a sailboat with which he was world champion in 2017, will participate.
He will then travel to Madrid on Monday to see his son, King Felipe VI, and his wife Sofia, before leaving the same day for Abu Dhabi “where he has established his permanent and stable residence”, insisted Wednesday evening the palace.
Before ensuring that Juan Carlos, who now intends to return “regularly to Spain” to see “his family and friends”, will always stay “in a private place of residence”.
– The government opposed to a stay in the palace –
According to the Spanish media, the government of the socialist Pedro Sánchez was, in fact, fiercely opposed to the fact that he could be accommodated, even for a short time, at the Zarzuela Palace, the official residence of the sovereign, who is the head of the ‘State.
Member of the ruling coalition, the radical left party Podemos has, as usual, fired red balls at the former sovereign.
“Anyone returning to our country with the history of King Juan Carlos I would be arrested at the border and brought to justice. Justice is not the same for everyone. The monarchy is an institution designed to commit crimes”, he denounced Thursday on Twitter.
On the right, the leader of the Popular Party Alberto Núñez Feijóo on the other hand defended the “right” of Juan Carlos to “return to Spain” while the justice closed his investigations.
The ex-king, who abdicated in 2014 amid scandals, left Spain in August 2020 for Abu Dhabi after increasingly compromising revelations about his lavish lifestyle and the opaque origin of his fortune.
He then explained that he wanted to “facilitate” Felipe VI “the exercise” of his functions in the face of “the public consequences of certain past events in (his) private life”.
Unable to prosecute him “because of the insufficiency of incriminating evidence, the prescription of offenses and the immunity” from which he benefited as head of state until 2014, the Spanish prosecution had classified in March the three investigations targeting him for suspicion of corruption or money laundering.
He had, however, highlighted the “tax irregularities” of which the former king had been guilty and which led him to proceed since his departure to Abu Dhabi to two tax regularizations for a total amount of more than 5 million euros. euros.
– “Trouble” –
“There is no legal reason preventing the former king from traveling to Spain, but there is a flood of ethical reasons explaining the turmoil caused by the announcement of his trip”, underlined in an editorial El Pais, the country’s leading general-interest daily.
Trying to restore the image of the Spanish monarchy since his accession to the throne in 2014, Felipe VI has distanced himself from his father.
He thus decided in March 2020 to renounce the inheritance of his father and to withdraw his annual allowance of nearly 200,000 euros.
More recently, he launched at the end of April, with the Sánchez government, a “transparency” operation for the royal palace which will now have to have its accounts audited, make its contracts public or even draw up an inventory of the gifts received by the royal family.