Politics 23/05/2022

Juan Carlos: "Explanations for what?"

Former king jokes about lack of explanations on eve of visit to Royal Palace

3 min
Joan Carles I, before participating in the third day of the regatta in Sanxenxo

SanxenxoOn his last day in Sanxenxo, the king emeritus seemed to be having a laugh at the press, who at every possible opportunity asked him what he would tell his son, King Felipe VI, and whether he planned to give him some kind of explanations. The half-hearted, mischievous answers peaked yesterday afternoon, when asked whether he would give explanations, he retored: "Explanations for what?", and then laughed. As if everything was, in fact, a joke. Social media outrage came thick and fast after La Sexta broadcast the scene.

"'Explanations?"

The show had already started a few hours before:

"Do you feel like seeing Felipe VI and his family at the Zarzuela?"

— "Ask about it, you ask about it. I'm here in Sanxenxo," he replied.

The cryptic answer did not help clarify expectations for his visit to the Royal Palace (where he has been banned from staying). The tone and the gesticulation led to think that the emeritus believes that the one who should answer the question is Felipe VI, but the somewhat incoherent answer and his hearing problems made it hard to interpret. And although at first he had not expressed an explicit desire to meet with his successor to the Crown, after receiving the a prize for winning the regatta in Sanxenxo, journalists brought it up again.

"What do you expect from tomorrow's visit?"

— "Lots of hugs and to see the family".

Juan Carlos I avoids answering if he is looking forward to seeing Felipe VI.

Since Juan Carlos left Spain for Abu Dhabi, almost two years ago, he has seen his daughters and grandchildren, but has only spoken to Felipe VI over the phone a few days ago, coinciding with the current king's visit to the United Arab Emirates. There is therefore great tension around a meeting that the Royal Household has made a private matter: the king's official agenda for today in empty. According to an official statement published on Wednesday, Felipe VI, Queen Sofia –who had to return early from a trip to Miami– and "other members of his family" will attend. There is no mention of Queen Letizia or the Infanta Sofia –her sister, Leonor, is studying in Cardiff–. Sources of the King's Household do not want to specify who will attend or advance what message Felipe VI wants to convey to his father, and refer to the information that will be given once the meeting has taken place

After three days chasing a statement from the emeritus that went beyond "very well" and "thank you very much", with former king's continuous evasions when asked whether he would give explanations about his fortune abroad, this Sunday he decided to stand up before the journalists and answer their questions. This Sunday El País had published that, according to Spanish government sources, the King's Household considers Juan Carlos to be "out of control" and that this could harm the monarchy.

Once the Prosecutor's Office proved the former king's tax irregularities, even if he couldn't be prosecuted, he informed his son that he was taking up residence in Abu Dhabi and that he wanted to live with "maximum possible privacy". Discretion, however, was not part of this long weekend of leisure and enjoyment in Sanxenxo. On Saturday afternoon he went to see his grandson Pablo Urdangarin play handball in Pontevedra, which was more in line with his previous statements. At the end of the match, a member of the former king's' security team approached the player and urged him to greet his grandfather, which he did.

Avoiding disrepute

Juan Carlos's return was widely broadcast on Spanish television, which has made the Spanish government even more uncomfortable. It is trying to manage the relationship between Felipe VI and his father in order to avoid discrediting the monarchy. The demand that the emeritus not stay at the Royal Palace of La Zarzuela when visiting Spain has led to strange logistics: the visit to his son will be the last thing Juan Carlos will do before returning to Abu Dhabi.

The Spanish government, moreover, continues to express its wish that the emeritus give explanations about his court cases. "I am aware of the public transcendence of past events in my private life, which I sincerely regret," he said when he informed Felipe VI that he was staying in Abu Dhabi. There was no apology, and neither has there been one these days from Sanxenxo. Meanwhile, the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, was trying to find a balance. From Pontevedra, this Sunday he said that the former king has the "right and freedom" to visit Spain whenever he wants. However, he did not visit him, nor has anyone from the Galician government which he led until recently.

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