After being born in exile in Rome, then having reigned over Spain for 38 years, will Juan Carlos end his days in exile? On the occasion of the announcement of the octogenarian's departure from Spain, we look back on the fall of the former sovereign, who was nevertheless highly respected by his subjects during the first years of his reign because of his decisive contribution. to the advent of democracy in post-Franco Spain.
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2012: elephant hunting in Botswana
In 2012, a first scandal tarnished the reputation of Juan Carlos, on the throne since 1975. While the country suffered a deep economic recession, the sovereign broke his hip during a costly elephant hunt in Botswana, where he is accompanied by his mistress.
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On April 18, an extremely rare occurrence, Juan Carlos made a public apology from the hospital - after his accident, he had to undergo a long series of operations. "I am really sorry. I made a mistake and it will not happen again , ”he says. The royal apologies are appreciated, but the damage is done.
All the more so as this controversy arises when the royal house is shaken by a corruption case involving Juan Carlos' son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, and his daughter Cristina. In June 2018, the “gendrissime” was finally sentenced to five years and ten months in prison, a sentence he is currently serving in Brieva prison.
June 2014: abdication
On June 2, 2014, Mariano Rajoy, then head of government, announced the abdication of Juan Carlos, which the latter confirmed the same day in a very brief press release. The septuagenarian officially renounces his crown on June 18. The next day, his son becomes king under the name of Felipe VI.
Read also: These monarchs who abdicated in the 21st century
June 2019: withdrawal from public life
Five years after his abdication, Juan Carlos announces in a letter sent in May 2019 to his son Felipe VI of his intention to withdraw completely from public life from June 2. "I believe that the moment has come to open a new page in my life and to complete my retirement from public life" , underlines the octogenarian.
Read also: Former King of Spain Juan Carlos announces his complete withdrawal from public life
Spring 2020: cascading surveys
On March 3, 2020, La Tribune de Genève affirms that Swiss justice is paying close attention to Juan Carlos, suspected of having received $ 100 million from the King of Saudi Arabia, of having concealed this sum in Switzerland then to have donated part of it to his mistress.
Read also: The case of the hidden money of Juan Carlos shakes Spain
This investigation was reportedly opened in 2018, after the publication in the Spanish press of recordings of the former lover of Juan Carlos. The 50-year-old claims that the latter received a commission when Spanish companies were awarded a contract for a high-speed line in Saudi Arabia.
In June 2020, the prosecution of the Spanish Supreme Court announced the opening of an investigation into this case. The investigations aim to "examine whether the facts which occurred after June 2014, when the King Emeritus was no longer protected by immunity, can be retained or must be rejected in the context of criminal proceedings" .
Eager to protect the once again splashed Spanish monarchy, Felipe VI definitely distances himself from his father. He decided in particular to renounce the paternal inheritance and withdraw from Juan Carlos his annual endowment, which amounted to nearly 200,000 euros.
Read also: Suspicion of corruption: the King of Spain renounces the inheritance of his father Juan Carlos
August 2020: exile
"In the sights of justice, will Juan Carlos go into exile?" La Tribune de Genève wondered on June 9 , which revealed the existence of the Swiss investigation. The newspaper was right. On August 3, a press release from the Royal House echoed like a thunderclap in Spain.
The press release reveals that the octogenarian has decided to leave the country. " Guided by the conviction to render the best service to the Spaniards, to their institutions, and to you as King, I inform you of my considered decision to exile myself, in this period, outside of Spain ", writes Juan Carlos to Felipe, in a letter that he signs “Your father” .
Read also: Spain: ex-king Juan Carlos, suspected of corruption, leaves the country
The Royal House announces that the current sovereign, who "wishes to underline the historical importance of the reign" of Juan Carlos, expressed to his father "his deep respect and gratitude for his decision". No indication is given on the destination of the ex-king. The latter's wife, ex-Queen Sofia, remains in Spain.