Politics 15/02/2021

Royal Household denies Juan Carlos I is critically ill

Journalist Pilar Eyre claims the family is considering moving him to Spain, while the Royal Household denies the information having "any foundation"

3 min
The King of Spain, Joan Carles I, announcing the abdication, June 2, 2014

MadridJournalist and writer Pilar Eyre has announced that ex king Juan Carlos I is critically ill, but Royal Houshold sources have denied the allegations have "any foundation". Eyre explained on Twitter that Zarzuela is considering moving him to Spain, and that his daughters Elena and Cristina have gone to Abu Dhabi to be with him.

The latest information on the state of health of the ex king was the contraction of coronavirus -advanced by ARA - in mid-December last year. The Royal Household merely reported that he was not admitted to the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi, but did not deny that he had been infected. This Saturday the digital media El Español already advanced that there was concern around Juan Carlos's state of health.

The ex-monarch, 83, underwent heart surgery in August 2019, scheduled after the annual review to which he was subjected in June in which he was given a triple aortocoronary bypass. It was the latest in a long line of operations, none as high-profile as the one in April 2012 for a fracture of three fragments of his right hip following a fall while on a hunting trip in Botswana. The same year he also underwent surgery on his left hip and in 2013 for a herniated disc. He had previously undergone knee surgery and in 2018 the prosthesis he was wearing was replaced. It is the mobility problems that have been most visible in his recent public appearances. In the last image, walking along a pier in Abu Dhabi, he could be seen struggling and needing assistance to stand

In recent years it has been constant to see Juan Carlos I with canes and his physical deterioration was noted beyond the Military Easter of 2014, when he was unable to deliver his speech fluently. The episode precipitated the abdication, which took place on 2 June of that year. The famous phrase "I'm very sorry. I made a mistake, it won't happen again" after his trip to Botswana was still in everybody's minds and his public figure was already in disrepute. So, he gave way to preserve the institution. The next moves to protect the Crown came in 2020, in the sense of preserving the figure of Felipe VI even at the expense of banishing Juan Carlos.

The information about the alleged collection of €64.8m from Saudi Arabia in commissions for the works of the high speed train from Medina to Mecca, with an opaque management of this heritage included, caused the son to renounce his father's inheritance and withdraw the economic allocation of €194,323 that he received as ex king. Felipe VI appeared as the second beneficiary of the €65m offshore fund and the move was also a way of recognising its illegality, despite a statement denying knowledge of the existence of this money.

The escape to Abu Dhabi

The trickle of information prompted an investigation by the Prosecutor's Office, which is still open in the Supreme Court, and the option of flight was activated. On 3 August the King's Household announced that Juan Carlos I had left Spain, without giving details of his destination. It was speculated that he had gone to Portugal, but after a few days it was known that his destination was Abu Dhabi, where he has remained since. Some media said he wanted to return to Spain to spend Christmas with his family, but finally it was not so and the Infanta Elena travelled to visit him this winter.

In parallel, in recent months more scandals have become known, some of which he could be prosecuted for as they took place after he abdicated (whilst King, he enjoyed immunity): the use of opaque cards in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The Prosecutor's Office incorporated him into the investigation. In November the attorney general of the State, Dolores Delgado, explained in a meeting with journalists that the Public Prosecution was studying an intelligence report of the Sepblac, the money laundering agency, linked to Juan Carlos. It would be about an active account of €10m that the king emeritus allegedly has on the island of Jersey, a tax haven in the English Channel.