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Spain: Ex-King Juan Carlos to briefly visit from exile

Juan Carlos, 84, lives in Abu Dhabi now

Juan Carlos, 84, lives in Abu Dhabi now

Spain's former King Juan Carlos will arrive in the country Thursday after spending nearly two years in exile in the United Arab Emirates, the Royal Household said. Juan Carlos will be visiting family for a brief period between Thursday and Monday, according to the palace statement.

Carlos to meet his son King Felipe VI

Juan Carlos had expressed his "desire to visit his family and friends regularly in Spain" in a "private" setting, the palace statement said.

The former king wants to "facilitate" his son Felipe's exercise of duties in light of the "public consequences of certain past events of (his) private life."

Carlos will head to the northwestern town of Sanxenxo to attend a regatta on Friday.

He will then travel to Madrid on Monday to visit his son King Felipe VI, his wife, Sofia, and other members of his family before leaving the same day for Abu Dhabi, where Carlos lives permanently.

Carlos abdicates the throne in 2014

Once revered for skillfully transitioning the country to a democracy from dictatorship after the death of Spanish General Francisco Franco in 1975, Carlos's reign was later tarnished by a series of scandals.

Corruption investigations into his daughter's husband shed light on the royal family's finances, with his daughter becoming the first Spanish royal to stand trial in 2014. She was accused of committing tax fraud. She was later acquitted, but her husband was sentenced.

In 2012, Carlos drew criticism for spending on a lavish trip to Bostwana when Spaniards were reeling under job cuts and a recession.

In 2014, Carlos abdicted in favor of his son, Prince Felipe.

King Felipe renounced his inheritance and stripped his father of the palace allowance in March 2020 after reports emerged of his father's involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was granted to a group of Spanish companies in 2011.

It also emerged that Carlos gave millions from the contract to a Danish businesswoman, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, with whom he shared a close relationship with.

Spanish and Swiss prosecutors dropped a series of investigations into alleged fraud in March 2022. Carlos has since been viewed as a liability for King Felipe.

rm/sms (Reuters, AFP)