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Protests and praise divide Spain as the return of King Juan Carlos dominates headlines


King Juan Carlos has been spending time in Spain after several years of self imposed exile. He has been warmly greeted in the Galician town he’s been staying in, Sanxenxo, where large crowds have gathered to cheer him. However, there has also been a vocal reaction from those opposed to his visit which follows a string of controversies, many of them around a series of allegations of financial irregularity.

As Juan Carlos spent his first weekend in Spain since 2020, around 300 people took part in a republican protest against the monarchy in the country’s capital, Madrid. Smaller, anti monarchy protests took place elsewhere in the country.

All were peaceful and there were no arrests.

The protest in Madrid took place near the Royal Palace. Those who showed up shouted slogans while some brought posters with critical messages against both Juan Carlos and the monarchy.

Juan Carlos has not been in Spain since August 2020, when he went into self imposed exile in Abu Dhabi. Since then, inquiries into allegations of financial irregularity have all closed and the king hasn’t faced any charges.

His arrival in Sanxenxo led to large crowds gathering at the sailing club where he made his first public appearance. The king seemed almost overwhelmed as he was greeted by cheers. He was given another round of applause when he made a low key entrance to a match to watch his grandson, Pablo Undangarin. His arrival was noticed and the spectators turned to cheer him. His weekend ended on another high note as his boat was triumphant in one of the races at the regatta at Sanxenxo.

However, the visit will conclude with time in Madrid and a meeting with his son, Felipe VI, who hasn’t included the audience in his official agenda.

In March of this year, King Juan Carlos announced his future plans for his life. He then wrote in a letter to his son, who was made public, that he will continue his life in Abu Dhabi. The former monarch still said that he wanted to make frequent visits to Spain. Juan Carlos does not plan to return to public life.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written six books on historical subjects and more than 1.500 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.