The former sovereign spent all day Monday at the Zarzuela Palace, the official residence of the King of Spain, where he saw his son for a long time, as well as his wife Sofia, from whom he has been living separated for a long time.
At the end of the day, the royal house published a press release indicating that Juan Carlos will continue to live “permanently” in Abu Dhabi, from where he left on board a private jet.
The press release also specifies that the former head of state (1975-2014) will only benefit from private accommodation during his next visits and “if he returns to reside in Spain in the future”, a sentence interpreted by the Spanish media as a sign that the royal household is leaving the door open for a future permanent return.
Juan Carlos spent “a lot of time discussing family matters with Felipe VI as well as various events” that have occurred in Spain since his departure, the statement further specifies.
Arrived Thursday evening from Abu Dhabi, the ex-sovereign had spent the weekend in Galicia (north-west) to attend a regatta and see his friends in the coastal town of Sanxenxo, before joining Madrid Monday morning.
– “Lost opportunity” –
This brief visit comes after the Spanish justice dismissed in March the investigations which targeted him, relating to suspicions of corruption and money laundering.
The prosecution then indicated that it could not prosecute the former monarch “because of the insufficiency of incriminating evidence, the prescription of offenses and the immunity” which he enjoyed as head of state until to his abdication in 2014 against a backdrop of scandals.
The prosecutors had, however, put forward the “tax irregularities” of which he had been guilty.
If he is not prosecuted, the numerous revelations about his lavish lifestyle and the opaque origin of his fortune have forever tarnished, in a large part of Spanish public opinion, the image of this figure adored for decades for leading Spain’s democratic transition after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
“Juan Carlos lost an opportunity to give explanations and ask for forgiveness during this visit of a few days,” left-wing government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez said on public radio RNE on Monday.
On Sunday, Juan Carlos replied curtly to journalists “explanations on what?” when they asked him if he intended to tell his son about his conduct.
– Back mid-June –
Trying to restore the image of the Spanish monarchy since his accession to the throne in 2014, Felipe VI had distanced himself in recent years from his father. He had thus decided in March 2020 to renounce the inheritance of Juan Carlos and to withdraw his annual allowance of nearly 200,000 euros.
More recently, he launched at the end of April, with the 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.
“Felipe VI is doing a tremendous job to find what makes the essence of a state institution, namely transparency, exemplarity,” insisted the government spokesperson on Monday.
According to Spanish media, this brief visit resulted in months of intense negotiations between the entourage of the former monarch, the royal palace and the government of Pedro Sanchez, who was fiercely opposed to the fact that he could be accommodated in the Zarzuela.
El Pais affirms in particular that a mediator, whose identity has not been revealed, had to participate in these discussions.
When announcing this visit, the palace had already assured that Juan Carlos, who now intends to return “regularly to Spain”, will always stay “in a private place of residence”.
His next visit is scheduled in less than three weeks to Sanxenxo, where he will again attend a regatta of the “Bribon”, a sailboat with which he was world champion, in mid-June.