SANXENXO, Spain – Hundreds of Spaniards on Friday, May 20, cheered their former king, A, on his first public appearance in his country in more than two years after investigations in Spain and Switzerland over alleged fraud were dropped.
Returning from exile in Abu Dhabi, a frail and visibly moved Juan Carlos, walking with a cane and leaning on an aide’s arm, approached the crowd outside the yacht club in Sanxenxo, a resort in northern Spain, to greet them and wave at them.
“Long live the king,” the crowd cheered.
Juan Carlos came from Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening, May 19, to participate in a regatta on his sailboat El Bribon, The Rascal in Spanish, his longtime friend Pedro Campos told state broadcaster TVE.
Once revered for his role in the country’s transition to democracy, the popularity of the former king fell drastically after a series of scandals which prompted his abdication in favor of his son Felipe in 2014.
The former monarch left Spain for Abu Dhabi in August 2020. He now keeps his permanent residence in the Gulf state but said in March he would visit Spain frequently after the prosecutors dropped their investigations due to insufficient evidence and the statute of limitation.
The return of the former king has embarrassed the left-wing coalition government where junior Podemos party is at odds with the dominant Socialists.
“The government is respectful of the former king’s decisions. It’s a personal decision,” the government spokesperson Isabel Rodriguez said on Friday.
Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz, from Podemos, said Juan Carlos should explain his role in the allegations that were subject to investigation to citizens.
Juan Carlos’s trip is due to end on Monday, May 23, in Madrid, where he will see his son Felipe but he will not stay at the official royal residence.
He will fly back to Abu Dhabi but will return to Sanxenxo to attend another regatta in June, the town’s mayor told reporters on Friday. – Rappler.com