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Juan Carlos: Spain’s former king has been in Abu Dhabi since mysteriously leaving country, palace confirms

Juan Carlos announced he was leaving Spain on 3 August in aftermath of corruption probe

Sam Hancock
Monday 17 August 2020 15:14 BST
Juan Carlos (right) is seen with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2011
Juan Carlos (right) is seen with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2011 (AFP/Getty)

Spain’s 82-year-old former king Juan Carlos has been staying in Abu Dhabi since leaving the country on 3 August, Spain’s royal house has confirmed after weeks of speculation.

The ex-monarch announced to the world he was leaving Spain on 3 August, in the aftermath of a corruption probe which exposed his financial history. Until today, it was not known where he intended to reside during his self-imposed exile.

Asked on Monday whether a report – which speculated that Juan Carlos was in the United Arab Emirates – by state broadcaster TVE was true, a spokesman for the royal household said: “That is what King Juan Carlos has told us.”

Speculation over the whereabouts of the ex-king has been rife in recent weeks. Reports surfaced that Juan Carlos was staying in Portugal where he spent time as a child, while other newspapers speculated he was hauled up in a luxury Dominican Republican resort.

After Spanish news website published what it said was a photograph of Juan Carlos getting off a plane at Abu Dhabi’s international airport on 3 August, the same day he was supposed to have left Spain, it was widely believed he was staying in the UAE capital.

Spain’s pro-roaylist newspaper ABC went as far as detailing Juan Carlos’ journey from Spain to the UAE on 7 August. According to the paper, the ex-monarch was flown over 6,000km in a private jet from the northwestern Spanish city of Vigo to Abu Dhabi.

From there he was supposedly flown by helicopter with four bodyguards to the luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel, where he was reported to be staying in the presidential suite at a cost of £10,000 a night.

While neither the UAE government nor the hotel itself have commented on the news, a spokesman for Juan Carlos said the 82-year-old travelled to the UAE on 3 August “and he remains there”, giving no more details.

The recent investigation into the former king’s past left his finances under scrutiny, including a preliminary investigation into Juan Carlos’s involvement in a €6.7bn (£6bn) high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia. Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported Juan Carlos had received $100m (£76.3m) from the late Saudi king in 2008.

In a letter Juan Carlos wrote to his son King Felipe VI, which was made public after he fled the country, the ex-monarch said he was leaving because of the “public repercussions of certain episodes of my private life”.

The former monarch is not formally under investigation and has repeatedly declined to comment on the allegations.

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