Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón was known as King of Spain from 1975 to 2014. He acceded to the Spanish throne two days after the death of Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos was instrumental in Spain’s peaceful transition to democracy.
Juan Carlos is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, who was the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent declaration of the Second Spanish Republic. He was expected as Frano’s successor; however, when Carlos came to the throne he introduced reforms to dismantle the Franco regime and begin Spain’s transition to democracy shortly after his accession. This led to the approval of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 in a referendum that re-established a constitutional monarchy.
The king remained popular with most Spaniards at home, but in the early 21st century his reign was marred by a corruption investigation involving Princess Cristina and her husband that shed light on the royal family’s finances. . Juan Carlos also drew criticism for embarking on an elephant hunt in Botswana in 2012, a lavish trip at a time when the Spanish economy was in recession and many Spaniards faced unprecedented austerity.
In June 2014, he formally abdicated in favor of his son Felipe. Since August 2020, Juan Carlos has lived in self-exile from Spain for alleged inappropriate links to trade deals in Saudi Arabia.
A brief return to the motherland
It has been two years since the former king announced his self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi amid an ongoing scandal over possible financial misconduct, but over the weekend the emeritus king made a brief return to his former homeland. Arriving in the country on May 19, Juan Carlos made a planned four-day stopover in the country to visit family and friends and participate in a sailing regatta. It has been reported that he left Spain and returned to Abu Dhabi.
Juan Carlos also visited the Royal Palace of Zarzuela in Madrid to visit his wife, Queen Sofía, and their son, the current King Felipe VI. While his two daughters have reportedly visited the former monarch in Abu Dhabi since exile, it was apparently his first meeting in two years with his wife and son.
The case of Saudi Arabia
In December, Swiss prosecutors dropped a case against Juan Carlos on suspicion that he had received some $100 million in bribes in connection with a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was awarded to a Spanish consortium. After a three-year investigation, the Geneva prosecutor’s office concluded it could find no evidence linking a payment in a Swiss bank account to the railway contract, but fined the bank for a lack of information related to the case.