Human Interest

Spain’s former king says he’ll stay in UAE, return to homeland frequently

Madrid, Mar 7 (EFE).- Former King Juan Carlos I, the father of current Spanish head of state Felipe VI, has told his son he is considering returning to his homeland but that he plans to remain for the time being in the United Arab Emirates’s capital, Spain’s royal family said Monday.

Juan Carlos I, 84, has lived in self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi since moving there in August 2020 amid probes into alleged financial irregularities, including claims he received the equivalent of up to $100 million in kickbacks related to a multi-billion-euro contract awarded to a Spanish consortium to build a high-speed rail line in Saudi Arabia.

Spanish prosecutors launched a trio of investigations starting in early June 2020 but shelved all of them last week, citing as reasons insufficient evidence, the statute of limitations and regal immunity prior to his abdication in 2014.

In a letter sent to the current king and published Monday by the royal family, Juan Carlos I said that now that the investigations have been dropped it is the right time to consider returning to Spain, “although not right away.”

He said he sincerely regrets “past events of my private life” that led to the investigations.

The ex-head of state added that for personal reasons he prefers to continue living “in a permanent and stable manner” in Abu Dhabi, saying he had found peace there during a challenging period of his life.

He added though that he will return frequently to Spain to visit family and friends, saying his homeland will always hold a special place in his heart.

Juan Carlos I said he plans to remain out of the public eye and has no intention of living at the Zarzuela Palace, his official residence prior to his departure from Spain.

The royal family said in a statement that Felipe VI “respects and understands the will” that the former monarch expressed in the letter. EFE


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