King Juan Carlos has set foot again in Spain, returning home after almost two years in exile.
The former monarch touched down in Vigo in Galicia in the early evening of May 19th 2022. On hand to greet him was his elder daughter, Infanta Elena, who hugged him warmly as he stepped off the plane before curtseying.
As he was driven away from the airport he had the windows of his car lowered so that photographers could get a better view of him. He was then driven to Sanxenxo where he will pass the weekend with friends. Small crowds were already gathering there to catch a glimpse of the king as he arrived.
Juan Carlos will spend five days in Spain, most of them in Sanxenxo where he will attend a sailing regatta.
On May 23rd 2022, he is due to travel to Madrid where he will meet his wife, Queen Sofia, who is on her way back to Spain from the United States. It will also be his only meeting during his short stay with their son, King Felipe VI. In a brief announcement confirming his return, the Spanish Royal Household said Juan Carlos would also meet other members of his family. Later on May 23rd 2022, he will return to Abu Dhabi where he has lived since August 2020.
The king’s return was highly anticipated with press and TV crews gathering through the day to cover the comeback of the man who ruled Spain for almost forty years.
Juan Carlos went into self imposed exile in August 2020 after a string of allegations of financial impropriety. He always denied them and all investigations into his finances have now been dropped. He said in March 2022 that he would like to make regular, short trips back to Spain. On May 18th, the Royal Household confirmed that the first of these was imminent.
Interest in his stay will be high and his arrival back home has dominated evening news programmes.