Former Spanish king Juan Carlos, long revered for leading the transition from Franco’s dictatorship to democracy, resolved to go into exile on Monday August 3 after his country’s justice system opened an investigation against him for corruption.
The 82-year-old former monarch announced his decision to leave Spain to his son, King Felipe VI, who accepted it and thanked him in a statement released by the Royal Household. “Guided […] by the conviction of rendering 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 Spain ”, wrote the former sovereign quoted in the statement, which did not specify its destination.
Juan Carlos explains to his son his decision by the will of “Facilitate the exercise of [ses] functions “, in front of “The public consequences of certain past events of [sa] private life “, a transparent allusion to the investigation opened against him in June by the prosecution of the Supreme Court.
This seeks to establish whether Juan Carlos was guilty of corruption by receiving a huge commission from Saudi Arabia for the award of the construction of a TGV between Mecca and Medina to a consortium of Spanish companies. . In July, the head of government Pedro Sanchez said ” trouble ” by these “Disturbing information”. The executive simply expressed its « respect » vis-à-vis this decision, in a press release.
Juan Carlos’ lawyer, Javier Sanchez-Junco, said in a statement that the former monarch was not seeking to escape justice by going into exile but remained at the disposal of the prosecution. However, the vice-president of the government Pablo Iglesias denounced on Twitter a “Leak” that the leader of the anti-monarchist party Podemos judges “Unworthy of a former head of state”.
The flight abroad of Juan Carlos de Borbón is an unworthy attitude of a former Head of State and leaves the monarch… https://t.co/CrAqctmAm3
—PabloIglesias (@Pablo Iglesias?)
On his website where the official letter was published, the Royal House specifies that the king underlined “Historical significance” from his father’s reign “In the service of Spain and democracy”.
In fact, Juan Carlos, chosen by Francisco Franco to succeed him, had surprised after the dictator’s death in 1975 by sparing a smooth transition to democracy with his Prime Minister Adolphe Suarez. He then neutralized an attempted coup d’état in February 1981. This had earned the sporting sovereign with many female conquests immense popularity in a country where the monarchy is nevertheless contested.
But his image had been gradually tarnished by rumors of corruption of the monarch very close to the Gulf monarchies.
In 2012, as the Spaniards suffered from the Great Recession, they learned that their king had broken his hip during a luxury safari in Botswana paid for by a Saudi businessman in the company of his mistress, a woman from German affairs. The scandal was such that the king had ended up abdicating in favor of his son.
This former mistress, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, claimed in recordings published in 2018 that Juan Carlos had received a commission during the award of the construction of the TGV to a Spanish consortium. The Swiss and Spanish courts are investigating this case.
Following new revelations this year from the Swiss daily “la Tribune de Genève” and the British newspaper “Daily Telegraph”, Felipe VI withdrew from his father an annual endowment from the Royal Palace valued at more than 194,000 euros per year. Then he announced that he was renouncing his father’s inheritance “In order to preserve the exemplary nature of the Crown”.