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Juan Carlos to visit Spain after two years in UAE exile

Juan Carlos and Felipe of Spain REUTERS/Juan Medina
Juan Carlos hugs his son Felipe at his abdication ceremony at the Royal Palace in Madrid on June 18, 2014

The former king of Spain, Juan Carlos, will travel to his country this weekend for the first time since he left under a cloud of scandal in August 2020, making his home in the United Arab Emirates.

Juan Carlos, 84, is visiting the northern region of Galicia for a boating event, according to the mayor of the town hosting the regatta.

In March, after Spanish and Swiss prosecutors dropped investigations into fraud allegations, Juan Carlos said he would maintain his residence in the UAE but would visit Spain frequently. He reportedly lives on Zaya Nurai Island, off Abu Dhabi.

Once revered for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy, Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 following a number of scandals. He is now seen as a liability for his son King Felipe – who greeted Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani today at the start of the Qatari emir’s state visit to Madrid.

The former king will attend the regatta in the municipality of Sanxenxo, its mayor Telmo Martin told state broadcaster TVE.

“After almost two years of not being among us, it will be an opportunity to show him the affection we feel for him,” Martin said.

Martin said he did not know if the king emeritus – his official title since the abdication – would participate in the sailing race his boat is expected to compete in.

The Spanish royal house said it could not confirm the visit, adding that it was up to Juan Carlos to make his plans public.