Spain's former king Juan Carlos flees the country

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Aug 04, 2020, 10.46 PM(IST) Edited By: Palki Sharma

Spain's former king Juan Carlos flees the country Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

As a former king -- Juan Carlos enjoys no immunity against these allegations. Only the king -- the head of state -- gets constitutional protection in Spain.

Spain's former king Juan Carlos has fled the country. A cloud of scandal hovers over the once popular, but divisive figure. He is facing investigation at home and abroad for corruption.

In a letter to his son King Felipe VI, he said it is time to go into exile outside Spain. The entire country is gripped by shock and speculation.

Some claim he went to his childhood house in Portugal, before taking the flight to the Dominican Republic.

Nobody knows where he is, but no doubts remain over why he left. In 2008, 100 million dollars were secretly transferred into one of his Swiss bank accounts. A gift from the late Saudi King Abdullah.

The scandal came to light after a former mistress of Juan Carlos spilt the beans to the media. She said Carlos received the money as commission.

A consortium of Spanish companies was awarded a high-speed railway contract.

This was to link the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

As a former king -- Juan Carlos enjoys no immunity against these allegations. Only the king -- the head of state -- gets constitutional protection in Spain.

In 2014, he vacated the throne for his son, King Felipe, who has distanced himself from his father's affairs. He not only renounced his father's inheritance but also withdrew the annual royal allowance.

The rule of Juan Carlos ended with scandals. His daughter and son-in-law faced a corruption investigation. And, a controversial elephant hunting trip to Botswana during Spain's financial crisis sparked public anger.

Juan Carlos took the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco. Under Franco, Spain suffered the ills of dictatorship.

But, Carlos guided Spain to democracy. A new system of parliamentary monarchy.

Carlos even dismantled an attempted coup in 1981. In Spain, King Juan Carlos will still be a historical figure.

But, not one who will be remembered kindly.