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King Juan Carlos receives family visit as he spends his birthday in exile


King Juan Carlos I of Spain was visited by his eldest child, Infanta Elena, as he spent his birthday in exile.

The former monarch turned 83 on January 5th 2021 and passed the day in Abu Dhabi where he has been living since August 2020 after deciding to leave the country he ruled for almost forty years in the wake of continuing controversy around his financial affairs.

Several Spanish media outlets reported that Elena, who turned 57 in December, travelled to Abu Dhabi to spend time with her father. It is understood she has made at least one other trip to be with Juan Carlos since the news of his exile was confirmed.

In recent days, Juan Carlos was photographed in public for the first time since August. He was seen being helped to walk by two bodyguards as he left a boat. The decision to publish the photo of the king, looking so frail, has attracted criticism from some monarchists in Spain.

Juan Carlos announced he was leaving Spain on August 3rd 2020 over concerns that controversy about his finances was proving detrimental to the monarchy. He had already left the country by the time his exile was made public. In recent years, he has faced a string of allegations about money including claims that he hid funds that came to him via a rail contract in the Middle East.

Before Christmas, it was reported that the former monarch wanted to return to Spain for Christmas and for his birthday which falls just a day before the Feast of the Epiphany, a major celebration in Spain and also the date of the Pascua Militar, a focal point in the royal calendar. However, the prospect of him returning led to more controversy while Juan Carlos himself is said to have decided against the idea because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria de Borbon y Borbon was born on January 5th 1938 in Rome where the Spanish Royal Family was living in exile after his grandfather, King Alfonso XIII, was forced to flee his country in 1931. Juan Carlos was sent to live in Spain from 1948 onwards as his family worked towards regaining the throne. He was named as successor to Franco and became King of Spain in November 1975, quickly beginning work to bring the country to democracy. Popular for decades, a string of family financial scandals and a secret trip to Botswana which ended in him being rushed back to Spain for surgery after a fall led to discontent. He abdicated his throne in favour of his only son, King Felipe VI, in June 2014.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.