A new survey for a major Spanish newspaper has shown support for King Juan Carlos to return from his self imposed exile.
The poll, for El Mundo, found 55% of people asked think the former monarch should come back to live in the country he ruled for almost forty years. It also found that 31% were opposed to him returning. El Mundo is a liberal conservative newspaper and a supporter of the monarchy in Spain.
Juan Carlos, who turned 83 on January 5th, left Spain in August 2020 as controversy about his finances intensified. His whereabouts remained unknown for two weeks until it was confirmed he was staying in Abu Dhabi. Just before Christmas, it was reported that the man called King Emeritus in Spain wanted to return for the holidays and his birthday, provoking some criticism. Since then, he has been photographed for the first time in almost six months, looking frail as he was helped to walk by two masked bodyguards.
Over the past few years, allegations of financial impropriety by Juan Carlos have increased with several investigations now under way. In March 2020, King Felipe renounced his personal inheritance from his father and cut his allowances.
In early summer, as Spain emerged from the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the coalition government became increasingly outspoken about its concerns over Juan Carlos. At one point, the country’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, described allegations around the former monarch as ‘disturbing’. Juan Carlos left Spain before his exile was even announced, sending a letter to his son in which he said he was ”guided by the conviction of providing the best service to the Spanish people’, o their institutions and to you as King,” before adding ”I inform you of my thoughtful decision to move, at this time, out of Spain.”
Juan Carlos became King in November 1975 on the death of the fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. He is widely credited with helping bring democracy to Spain which underwent an economic revival. However, he was plagued by scandal in the alter part of his reign and he abdicated in favour of his only son, Felipe VI, in June 2014. He retired from public life in 2019.