Visits are always a pleasure – if not coming, then going. This saying could also apply to the first visit in almost two years that the controversial Spanish king Juan Carlos (84) pays to his homeland.
His son, King Felipe VI. (54), tries to polish up the image of the monarchy, which was scratched by his father in particular. Accordingly, Felipe, who always appears virtuous, keeps as much distance as possible from his father.
In the announcement of the visit, the king expressly emphasized the private nature of the trip and emphasized that his father resided in Abu Dhabi “permanently”. This is also an indication that a return of the 84-year-old from exile does not exactly trigger royal leaps of joy. A meeting is only planned for Monday in Madrid shortly before departure.
Regatta visit planned
The ex-monarch’s first destination at home is the small port town of Sanxenxo in Galicia, instead of the presidential palace Zarzuela near Madrid. The passionate sailor is drawn there because of a regatta this weekend. He finds accommodation in the house of his friend, a wealthy entrepreneur, Pedro Campos.
The mayor of the city of about 18,000 inhabitants, Telmo Martín (63), said: “I don’t know whether as a spectator or as a participant (of the regatta), but he will be here.” The yacht “Bribón” is also moored in Sanxenxo, which means something like crook, scoundrel or rascal in German. The old king became world champion with the boat in 2019.
Harsh criticism of home visit
Not everyone liked such a start of the first home visit. The state TV broadcaster RTVE spoke of an elite sport and criticized the name of the yacht. The journalist Fernando Ónega (74), who was always well informed about the royal family and who was the first to report on the upcoming visit last Sunday, was not exactly happy either.
The ex-monarch had come under criticism for multi-million dollar financial machinations and expensive ventures – such as an elephant hunt in Botswana in 2012 while unemployment was rampant in Spain. In August 2020 he left Spain and has been living in Abu Dhabi ever since. He also wants to stay there for the time being, but pay sporadic visits to his homeland.
The ex-monarch, who was once highly revered by many Spaniards, narrowly escaped criminal proceedings. The man, who was celebrated for years as the savior of Spanish democracy because he brought a group of putschists to task with a resolute speech to the nation in 1981, has lost his credit with many people, as the newspaper “El País” commented.
Investigations against Juan Carlos were dropped
The public prosecutor’s office only dropped the years-long investigation into financial irregularities in March because Juan Carlos was either protected by his immunity as king until his abdication in 2014, the actions were statute-barred or he hastily paid back taxes worth millions.
In the justification, however, prosecutors described the misconduct of the old king in minute detail and thus made it known to a broader public. The left-wing Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (50) demanded that Juan Carlos explain his “disturbing” behavior to the Spaniards. (sda)