It had been nearly two years since the former Spanish king Juan Carlos had set foot in his country. Exiled to the United Arab Emirates following accusations of embezzlement, the visit of the former monarch has drawn widespread criticism. Some 300 people demonstrated against his reappearance this Sunday in Madrid.

Brandishing signs that read “Justice” or “Le Bourbon, en prison”, the demonstrators, numbering 300 according to a government spokesperson, gathered in a square in front of the royal theater, very close to the royal palace, to criticize the ex-head of the Spanish state (1975-2014).

Closed cases

The 84-year-old ex-king, who had not returned to Spain since August 2020, arrived on Thursday to attend a regatta in Sanxenzo, Galicia (northwest) until Sunday. On Monday, he must go to Madrid to see in particular his son, King Felipe VI, and his wife Sofia, before leaving the same day for Abu Dhabi “where he has established his permanent and stable residence”, said Wednesday evening the palace.

This brief visit by Juan Carlos comes after the Spanish courts closed the corruption and money laundering investigations against him in March. But the revelations about the opaque origin of his fortune have forever tarnished, in much of Spanish public opinion, the image of this figure adored for decades for having led Spain’s democratic transition after his death. of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

” It’s a shame “

The government of socialist Pedro Sánchez – which, according to the media, has opposed allowing him to stay at the Royal Palace of Zarzuela, the official residence of Felipe VI – is still awaiting “explanations” from him for his conduct.

“It is a shame that the king emeritus has returned to this country to do a regatta, it is a shame that he has not returned to render accounts before justice and the citizens”, commented Sunday Ione Belarra, secretary general of the radical left party Podemos, on the sidelines of a meeting of this party, a member of the coalition government.

” Long live the king “

On the port of Sanxenxo, where Juan Carlos boarded this weekend the “Bribon”, the sailboat with which he had been world champion, dozens of curious people cheered and welcomed him with cries of “Long live the king, Long live Spain “.

“He does what suits him, in accordance with his rights and freedoms”, for his part commented on Sunday the leader of the Popular Party (PP, conservatives), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who defended his visit.


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