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Spain’s ex-King Juan Carlos has reportedly arrived in the United Arab Emirates after leaving his home country amid a corruption investigation.

A photograph published by Spanish media group NIUS appears to show Juan Carlos arriving in Abu Dhabi.

The former king made the shock announcement on August 3 that he was leaving Spain.

He denies any wrongdoing and has said he would be available if prosecutors needed to interview him.

Juan Carlos’ departure has sparked a huge debate in Spain about the monarchy and intense speculation about where the former king has gone.

Local reports said the former king had traveled to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean or to Spain’s neighbor, Portugal.

However, there are now reports Juan Carlos is occupying an entire floor at Abu Dhabi’s five-star Emirates Palace hotel. He was reportedly close with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

As yet however his location remains unconfirmed. Spain’s royal family and government have so far declined to comment on his whereabouts.

Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 after close to 40 years in power and handed power to his son Felipe.

Photo AFP

King Juan Carlos of Spain signs abdication bill

King Juan Carlos of Spain comes under fire for hunting elephants in Botswana as his country drowns in debt

The king’s decision to give up the throne came after a corruption investigation involving his daughter’s husband and a controversial elephant hunting trip the monarch took during Spain’s financial crisis.

The controversies however did not stop there. In June this year, Spain’s Supreme Court launched an investigation into Juan Carlos’s alleged involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, after the ex-king lost his immunity from prosecution following his abdication.

On August 3, Juan Carlos announced he was now leaving his home country in a letter to his son.

He wrote: “Guided by the conviction to best serve the people of Spain, its institutions, and you as king, I inform you of my decision at this time to leave Spain.”

Juan Carlos said he made the decision “in the face of the public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating” and in the hope of allowing his son to carry out his functions as king with “tranquility”.

A statement said King Felipe VI had conveyed “his heartfelt respect and gratitude” to his father for this decision.

Juan Carlos’ departure has sparked a fresh debate about the role of the Spanish monarchy and the corruption allegations against the former king.

Catalonia’s parliament – which is controlled by separatist parties who seek independence from Spain – voted in a non-binding motion on August 7 to condemn the monarchy after the ex-king’s departure.

Regional president Quim Torra told lawmakers: “Neither Spaniards nor Catalans deserve such a loud and ridiculous scandal on an international scale.”

There have also been demonstrations calling for Spain to become a republic again.

Spain last removed its monarchy in 1931 before a devastating civil war which ended with the victory of dictator Francisco Franco in 1939.


In a rare TV address, King Felipe VI of Spain said Catalonia referendum’s organizers put themselves “outside the law”.

The king said the situation in Spain was “extremely serious”, calling for unity.

Hundreds of thousands of people across Catalonia have been protesting over Spanish police violence during the vote, during which nearly 900 people were hurt.

Catalonia Independence Referendum: Carles Puigdemont Says Spanish Region Won Right to Statehood

Catalonia Independence Referendum Begins Amid Police Crackdown

According to local medical officials, during the vote, 33 police officers were also injured.

In his TV address to the nation, King Felipe said the Catalan leaders who organized the referendum showed their “disrespect to the powers of the state”.

“They have broken the democratic principles of the rule of law.”

“Today, the Catalan society is fractured,” the king said, warning that the poll could put at risk the economy of the wealthy north-eastern region and the whole of Spain.

However, King Felipe stressed that Spain “will overcome difficult times”.

Spain’s central government has described the Catalan referendum as illegal.


King Felipe VI of Spain has stripped sister Princess Cristina of her title as Duchess of Palma ahead of her tax fraud trial.

Infanta Cristina, who is to go on trial charged with tax evasion, was granted the Duchess of Palma de Mallorca title in 1997 when she married Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player who is also accused of tax evasion.

Princess Cristina had asked King Felipe to remove her title, her lawyer said.

However, the royal palace said the king made the decision before seeing her request. Princess Cristina denies the tax fraud charges.Princess Cristina and Iñaki Urdangarin

In the year since King Felipe, 47, succeeded his father, King Juan Carlos, to the throne, he has excluded Princess Cristina de Borbon and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, who faces a wider array of corruption charges in the case, from the royal family’s official functions.

Prosecutors in Palma de Mallorca have long been investigating the business dealings of Inaki Urdangarin.

Inaki Urdangarin stands accused with 15 others of embezzling 5.6 million euros ($6 million) of public money from the Noos Institute – a charitable sports foundation he ran with a business partner. Princess Cristina is accused of involvement in the alleged scam.

It is the first time in modern Spain’s history that a member of the royal family has faced court cross-examination in a major corruption scandal.

Princess Cristina, 50, is the youngest daughter of former King Juan Carlos, who abdicated last year.

An investigating judge recommended that Princess Cristina of Spain, sister of King Felipe VI, be charged in a tax fraud and money laundering case that has helped inflame opposition to the monarchy.

Infanta Cristina, 49, was questioned in court in February about the business dealings of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, and could now face trial.

However, an appeal has been lodged against the decision.

The judge’s ruling will come as an embarrassment to Felipe VI, who came to the throne only six days ago.

The tax fraud case was one of several scandals that weakened the popularity of the Spanish monarchy and prompted the abdication of King Juan Carlos.

Princess Cristina’s appearance in court in Mallorca was unprecedented for the royal family and if she goes to trial, she could face up to 11 years in jail.

Princess Cristina's appearance in court in Mallorca was unprecedented for the royal family and if she goes to trial

Princess Cristina’s appearance in court in Mallorca was unprecedented for the royal family and if she goes to trial

The investigating judge’s decision is a major development in this investigation and a huge embarrassment for the Spanish royal family.

Judge Jose Castro believes Infanta Cristina knew more than she has let on regarding the allegedly corrupt activities of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin.

This inquiry has now lasted more than three years and during that time it has heavily eroded the popularity of the royal family. Princess Cristina has already appeared in court to testify, but the door is now open for her to face trial, which would take the scandal to a new level.

Judge Jose Castro has been investigating allegations that the princess’s husband embezzled millions in public funds with a former business partner.

Inaki Urdangarin, who is the Duke of Palma, and Diego Torres were alleged to have received 5.6 million euros ($7.5 million) by overcharging regional governments for organizing sporting events as part of a not-for-profit organization called Noos.

Announcing his decision, Judge Jose Castro said the princess should be tried alongside her husband and other suspects.

Anti-corruption prosecutors had already opposed his decision to name Princess Cristina as a suspect, saying there was insufficient evidence against her. Prosecutor Pedro Horrach said on Wednesday an appeal was being lodged “because there is still no piece [of evidence] against” the princess.

A final decision on whether Princess Cristina should stand trial will be made by the provincial court at Palma de Mallorca.


Felipe VI has been proclaimed king of Spain after the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos, in a ceremony in parliament.

Earlier, King Felipe VI received the royal sash from his father, Juan Carlos, at the Zarzuela Palace near Madrid.

He acceded to the throne at the stroke of midnight after Juan Carlos formally abdicated on Wednesday.

Correspondents say the ceremonies have been kept low key, at a time when many in Spain are suffering economic hardship.

The ceremony takes the form of a proclamation rather than a coronation. It is the first royal transition in Spain since democracy was restored in the 1970s.

Felipe VI has been proclaimed king of Spain after the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos

Felipe VI has been proclaimed king of Spain after the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos

King Felipe VI, 46, swore an oath promising to uphold the constitution.

Congress President Jesus Posada then proclaimed him king, declaring: “Long live Spain! Long live the king!”

In a speech to parliament, King Felipe thanked his parents and said he had “great hope” for the future of Spain.

“You will find in me a loyal head of state who is ready listen and understand, warn and advise as well as to defend the public interest at all times,” he said.

“The monarch wants to be close to citizens… ensuring it can preserve its prestige and dignity.”

“Now more than ever, citizens of Spain are rightly demanding fundamental ethical principles should govern our public life. The king should not only be a reference but who serves all citizens of Spain.”

No foreign leaders or royal families have been invited to the event.

King Felipe and his wife Letizia will later be driven through Madrid’s streets before appearing on the front balcony of the Royal Palace.

Correspondents say the new king faces a series of tough challenges if he is to restore the reputation of the monarchy.

Although King Juan Carlos won plaudits for his role in restoring democracy, his image suffered when he went on a luxurious African elephant-hunting safari in the midst of a recession.

His reputation suffered further damage because of tax fraud allegations made against his daughter, Infanta Cristina, who is reported not to have been invited to the succession party.

At the same time many Spaniards are demanding a referendum on whether to have a monarchy at all.

A demonstration is scheduled to take place in central Madrid on Thursday, the same day as the enthronement, despite a ban imposed by authorities.

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The Spanish parliament has backed the abdication of King Juan Carlos and accession of his son Crown Prince Felipe by a large majority.

The succession had the backing of both the ruling centre-right Popular Party and the opposition Socialist party despite some Socialist misgivings.

Radical leftists in the chamber had demanded a referendum.

Madrid and other cities have seen anti-monarchy rallies since King Juan Carlos, 76, announced on June 2 he would step down.

King Juan Carlos said he was abdicating after nearly 40 years on the throne to make way for a “new generation”.

The government says parliament has to approve the transition as it requires a change in the 1978 constitution.

Referendum campaigners reacted furiously to the vote on Twitter, with the topic “We want to vote” quickly trending.

Spain’s crown prince is expected to be proclaimed King Felipe VI on June 19

Spain’s crown prince is expected to be proclaimed King Felipe VI on June 19 (photo AFP)

The bill was passed in Congress by 299 votes in favor to 19 against, and 23 abstentions.

It will now have to be approved by the upper house of parliament, the Senate, which is expected to vote on June 17. The prince is expected to be proclaimed King Felipe VI on June 19.

Opening the debate on Wednesday, PM Mariano Rajoy defended “the continuity of the institutions”, saying the “form of the state ” was not up for discussion.

“We are not here to modify facts but to underline with our bill that in Spain we rely on a resolutely democratic parliamentary monarchy,” he said.

Opinion polls published at the weekend give a mixed picture of sentiment among Spaniards.

A poll for the centre-left daily El Pais suggested 62% of people wanted a referendum, while 49% would favor the continuation of the monarchy under Felipe, compared with 36% who would back a republic.

Another poll, for the centre-right El Mundo, suggested 55.7% backed the monarchy and 72.9% thought Felipe would make a good king.

Felipe will inherit the throne at a time when Spain is struggling with high unemployment and growing demands for independence for Catalonia.

For much of King Juan Carlos’s reign, he was seen as one of the world’s most popular monarchs, but recently many Spaniards lost confidence in him.

In part, a long-running corruption investigation into the business dealings of King Juan Carlos’ daughter, Infanta Cristina, and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, tarnished the monarchy’s reputation.

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