Father of King Juan Carlos dies

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The Independent Online
MADRID - Juan de Borbon y Battenberg, the father of Spain's King Juan Carlos, and himself the rightful heir to the Spanish throne during the Franco years, died yesterday in a hospital in Pamplona at the age of 79. The son of Spain's pre-Civil War King Alfonso XIII, he had renounced his right to the throne in favour of Juan Carlos in 1977, writes Phil Davison.

Don Juan, who was Count of Barcelona, had suffered from throat cancer and had been in hospital for the past six months. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia had cancelled all official engagements in recent days and moved to a hotel 100 yards from the hospital. Don Juan had spent most of his life in exile and continued to oppose the dictator Francisco Franco until the latter's death in 1975. He returned from exile only in December 1982, after democracy had been firmly established.

To many Spaniards, the Count was a figure they could more easily respect during and after the Franco years than even his son. Some have never quite forgiven the young Juan Carlos for his close relationship with Franco, a relationship he defends to this day.

Juan de Borbon y Battenberg was the son of a king, the father of a king and a great-grandson of Queen Victoria through his mother, Victoria Eugenia. He was born in a palace near Segovia on 20 June 1913, and was a Naval Academy cadet in 1930 when his father was forced into exile by the proclamation of a republic. Juan de Borbon later spent more than half a century in exile; in Cannes, Rome, Lausanne and latterly the Portuguese city of Estoril.

Obituary, page 22