After 654 days in ‘exile,’ Spain's ex-king returns to Spain

Airplane of Juan Carlos I touched down in Galicia, where he will attend series of boat races

Alyssa McMurtry   | 19.05.2022
After 654 days in ‘exile,’ Spain's ex-king returns to Spain

OVIEDO, Spain 

Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I, who fled his country amid investigations into corruption and financial misdoings nearly two years ago, returned to Spain on Thursday for a visit.

This is the first time he has returned to Spain since moving to Abu Dhabi in August 2020.

The ex-king landed in the northern region of Galicia, where he will attend a yachting regatta, a series of boat races.

He is also expected to see his son, Spain’s current king, Felipe VI, and the rest of Spain’s royal family, also for the first time since he went into self-imposed exile.

He will not stay the night in the Palace of Zarzuela, however. That is because Spain’s government opposed allowing him to stay in a building that Spain’s elected leaders say belongs to the state, according to Spanish daily El Pais.

So the 84-year-old’s visit will be a short one.

The monarch will return to Abu Dhabi on May 23 “where he has set up his permanent and stable residence,” according to a statement from the Palace of Zarzuela.

His return to Spain has been welcomed by some, but fiercely criticized by others.

“The king emeritus should only return to Spain to be held accountable by the justice system. The fact that his immunity frees him from that humiliates our democracy,” tweeted Ione Belarra, the leader of Spain’s junior coalition partner Podemos.

In March, Spain’s courts dropped charges against the king after finding “numerous fiscal irregularities,” which they were unable to prosecute due to his political immunity.

Several protests over his return are planned for this weekend.

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