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Could The Queen rescind King Juan Carlos’s membership of the Order of the Garter?


Following the exile of Spain’s former monarch King Juan Carlos, some royal commentators are questioning whether the honours awarded to him by Queen Elizabeth II may be rescinded.

As reported in the Daily Mail, Juan Carlos has been honoured both with the Royal Victorian Chain and is also a Stranger Knight of the Order of the Garter.

However, if Juan Carlos one day returns to Spain, he faces the prospect of being arrested.

The Mail reports that if this happens, Her Majesty would be under an obligation to rescind the honours.

Juan Carlos is only one of ten living recipients of the Royal Victorian Chain.

This rare honour is a decoration established in 1902 by King Edward VII as a personal award of the monarch.

Juan Carlos was conferred the honour in 1986, with other living recipients including Queen Margrethe of Denmark, King Harald of Norway and António Ramalho Eanes, the former President of Portugal.

The former Spanish King was admitted to the Order of the Garter in 1988. His son and current King of Spain, Felipe VI, is also a Stranger Knight, having been invested in 2017 on a state visit to the United Kingdom.

Membership of the order is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and no more than 24 living members, or companions.

There are currently eight Stranger Knights and Ladies Companion, with King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan also holding the prestigious honour.

Earlier this month, King Juan Carlos left the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, his home for half a century, as controversy around his financial affairs grows. The former monarch, who ruled Spain between 1975 and 2014, will leave for an undisclosed location.

The allegations surrounding Juan Carlos have grown over the past months. He is under investigation over claims he hid money that came to him via a rail contract in bank accounts in Switzerland. In March 2020, Felipe VI declared publicly that he would not take any personal inheritance from his father and he withdrew the allowances being paid to Juan Carlos.

In recent weeks, the Spanish Prime Minister has unexpectedly spoken out about the former monarch. Pedro Sanchez, who leads a left wing coalition government, said he found allegations about Juan Carlos ”disturbing”.

King Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of his son, Felipe VI, on June 19 2014. He is widely credited with bringing democracy to his country after decades of fascist rule under Francisco Franco. In recent years, his reputation has been tarnished by claims of financial irregularity.