Juan Carlos I informs Felipe VI that for the time being he will be staying in Abu Dhabi

Ex king says he will travel "frequently" to Spain for visits and that he will stay in a "private residence"

3 min
Joan Carles I in an archive image.

MadridJuan Carlos I prefers his new life in Abu Dhabi to returning to Spain, the country he reigned and defrauded at the same time. After the Public Prosecutor's Office closed all investigations despite confirming tax irregularities, the former Spanish king has announced that he is staying in the Persian Gulf for the time being, but that he will return to Spain "frequently". Juan Carlos informed his son, reigning monarch Felipe VI, in a letter that this Monday night the royal household has made public. The current head of state says he "respects" and "understands" his father's will.

"I prefer, at this time, for reasons that belong to my private sphere and that only affect me, to continue to reside permanently and stably in Abu Dhabi, where I have found tranquility, especially for this period of my life," explains Juan Carlos I in the letter he has sent to Felipe VI. "As is natural, I will return frequently to Spain, which I always carry in my heart, to visit family and friends," he adds. The former monarch admits the "transcendence" of everything that has happened in recent years, which he frames in his "private life" and which he again "sincerely regrets". In addition, Juan Carlos I explains that, when he returns to the Spanish state, he will live in a "private residence".

With this decision, the former king maintains his estrangement from the royal household that began in March 2020, when Felipe VI withdrew Juan Carlos's allowance and renounced his inheritance. The king denied any links to the Lucum Foundation, through which his father had managed the €65m he received from Saudi Arabia in 2008, and sought to distance himself from Juan Carlos when he went into exile, welcoming his escape.

Cornered by the proceedings of the Prosecutor's Office, which collected information from Switzerland and was finding new irregularities, Juan Carlos I decided to "move out of Spain to facilitate" Felipe VI's actions as king. The departure had been agreed with his son and also encouraged by the Spanish government, which for weeks maintained steady contact with the Royal Household to unblock a situation that aggravated the monarchy's discredit. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez spoke of "disturbing information" a month before Juan Carlos left, although he always stressed that the institution was not under discussion.

Now the former head of state says he wants to culminate "this stage of his life" in Abu Dhabi. Although he does not close the door to the possibility of returning in the future, he reiterates that, if he did, he would organise his "personal" life and his place of residence "in areas of a private nature to continue enjoying the greatest possible privacy". In other words, he puts an end to the debate on whether he would live in the Zarzuela Palace if he finally decided to return to Spain. It is one more step in Felipe VI's quest to eliminate his father's murkiest past, since despite charges were not pressed, the Prosecutor's Office admitted that the former king had committed crimes in his business abroad. It was the statute of limitations, the inviolability of the king contained in the Constitution and payments to settle his tax status which saved him from appearing in court.

The cost to the public coffers

Patrimonio Nacional, the body attached to the Ministry of the Presidency that is in charge of maintaining the State's historical and artistic heritage, pays for Juan Carlos's three staff in Abu Dhabi and their trips, elDiario.es explained a year ago. In any case, the cost for the public coffers since Juan Carlos left is unknown and the Spanish government keeps it secret. The transparency law provides for exceptions when it comes to providing information, such as everything that may affect "public security" and "foreign relations", for example. Juan Carlos's decision to stay in Abu Dhabi will mean more expenses for the State.