The emeritus king, with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayeb, on the porch of the mansion where he resides on the island of Zaya Nurai, in a picture released in February.
The emeritus king is likely to read this article.
Reading the Spanish press is one of the activities to which he dedicates a good part of the long and tedious hours of his golden retreat in Abu Dhabi.
He devours the newspapers, especially if they talk about him, although what he reads almost always puts him in a bad mood, because the facts they tell are false, he maintains;
or at least he doesn't remember them that way.
Those who worry about the situation of Juan Carlos I assure that he has become a luxury expatriate routine and, although the monotony and nostalgia sometimes make a dent in his spirit, he no longer has the peremptory urgency of a few months ago, when He seemed ready to take the first plane and get to Barajas, even if that would put his son Felipe VI in trouble.
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Since leaving Spain on Tuesday a year ago, Juan Carlos I has lived on the island of Zaya Nurai, 15 minutes by boat from the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is an exclusive refuge for potentates, with a five-star hotel complex and 11 large mansions, where restaurants and entertainment venues do not have hours, but are open when their select clientele wants to enjoy them. The mansion where the emeritus king is staying - discovered by Telecinco - has 1,050 square meters of housing and 4,100 of land, with six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a swimming pool and access to a private beach. On the back porch of the house, against a background of palm trees, Juan Carlos was photographed in February with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and
from the Emirates, Mohamed bin Zayeb (MBZ);
and also, in another snapshot, with the Emirati racing driver Amna al Qubaisi and her family.
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The emeritus king does two hours of gymnastics and rehabilitation every morning and, in the afternoons, receives visits from local leaders or Westerners residing in the country, such as the Spaniard Bernardino León, who the Emirati authorities commissioned to direct their diplomatic school, after having mediated in the Libyan conflict.
His daughters Elena and Cristina visit him almost every month from Spain.
Sometimes they spend a few days together, other times they take over.
On one of those trips, they received the Chinese vaccine against covid, when in Spain only the highest risk groups were being immunized, which put the Royal Family in the pillory again.
The former head of the secret service, the CNI, General Félix Sanz, and few others have also attended, since the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and the shortage of direct flights are dissuasive.
Loneliness, say those who have treated him these months, is his greatest enemy.
He has never been too fond of reading.
Kill the hours watching movies in the private home theater and, above all, talking on the phone with some of the contacts in your bulky calendar.
The King Emeritus, with the Emirati pilot Amna al Qubaisi and her family, in the Emirati mansion where he lives.
The paradise island where he lives has been turned into a golden cage.
He hardly ever leaves there, other than to go to dinner in Abu Dhabi.
He has also made some brief trips to the neighboring kingdoms of the Gulf, whose sheiks and princes he continues to treat as
but without leaving the Arabian peninsula.
He has very limited mobility, but he resists using a wheelchair, as his sister the Infanta Pilar did, for image reasons.
To walk, in addition to a cane, you need the support of two companions.
A photograph released in January showed him walking through the Abu Dhabi marina, arm in arm with two men.
They were two of the four civil guards who serve as escorts and to whom the Ministry of the Interior pays subsistence and travel expenses. In addition, he has three field assistants, the same ones he had in Spain, who take turns traveling to the Gulf, so there is always one by his side. They are part of the staff of the Casa del Rey, but all their expenses are covered by the National Heritage. For this reason, although Juan Carlos I is the emir's guest, his stay in the Gulf costs tens of thousands of euros a month to the public coffers and nobody knows how long it will last.
The emeritus king would like to put an end to it tomorrow, say sources in his environment. Of course: he wants to return to the Palacio de La Zarzuela, because it was there where he lived for 57 years and no one has kicked him out of his house, but it has been he who has left voluntarily, he stresses. This requirement complicates the situation, government sources acknowledge. Or perhaps it facilitates it, because it is unfeasible and avoids addressing the underlying problem: that it cannot return, neither to La Zarzuela nor to Spain, as long as the ongoing investigations in the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Tax Agency remain open.
The timeframes for completing both investigations have long been exceeded, but, far from being closed, they seem to become increasingly entangled, with new and unsuspected ramifications. In the surroundings of the emeritus king, they believe that the agency and the prosecutor's office look at each other from the corner of their eye and neither wants to be the first to close their investigation for fear that a finding of the other will catch her with the changed foot. The only consolation is that, as he has been outside of Spain for more than half the year, he has become a tax resident abroad and the Treasury will not be able to ask him to account for his 2021 income.
Juan Carlos I is in good health, despite his ailments. In the Emirates, he has only been hospitalized for routine check-ups and to remain under observation after being vaccinated. But in August 2019, two years ago now, he underwent open heart surgery for three
and the possibility of having a pacemaker implanted has been considered. At 83, the risk of an unforeseen illness cannot be ruled out. And neither in Zarzuela nor in Moncloa does there seem to be a plan on what to do with the emeritus king, beyond buying time. A time that is running out.