Government seeking total legal protection for Juan Carlos after crown handover

Popular Party wants to ensure former monarch can only be tried by Supreme Court in all cases

Left to right, Prince Felipe, Queen Sofía, King Juan Carlos and PM Mariano Rajoy at a military parade.
Left to right, Prince Felipe, Queen Sofía, King Juan Carlos and PM Mariano Rajoy at a military parade.Pool

The government is planning to grant King Juan Carlos the highest legal protection possible against potential lawsuits once he ceases to be the Spanish head of state.

Until now, the monarch has enjoyed immunity from the courts. But once he hands the crown over to his son Felipe, he will be handing over that inviolability as well.

To protect Juan Carlos against future legal attacks, the Popular Party (PP) administration will include him in the list of aforados, individuals who can only be tried by the Supreme Court in civil or criminal inquiries relating to the exercise of their duties. Around 10,000 politicians, magistrates and other public officials enjoy this status.

But the authorities are seeking to take this concept one step further with Juan Carlos, and extend the aforamiento to civil suits over events unrelated with the exercise of his duties. This would include claims such as paternity suits, for instance.

Other members of the royal family have not enjoyed any particular legal protection over the years

A year-and-a-half ago, two Madrid judges turned down two paternity suits brought against Juan Carlos for events that allegedly took place before he was king. The magistrates argued that the king is inviolable and not legally accountable, as per the Spanish Constitution.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáez de Santamaría, the government will likely introduce the special protection via a fast-track organic law project of no more than a few paragraphs.

The executive confirmed it would work on this initiative 24 hours after the royal palace suggested the need to grant the king legal protection following his abdication.

Unlike the king, other members of the royal family have not enjoyed any particular legal protection throughout the 39 years of Juan Carlos’ reign. His daughter Cristina was recently targeted by a court investigation into the business dealings of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, and was forced to provide testimony before a judge in February.

Stepping up security for the coronation ceremony

N. J. / J. D., Madrid

As the coronation of Prince Felipe approaches, details are starting to emerge about the ceremony itself, as well as the new situation of the royal family after the June 19 event.

Following the abdication, Juan Carlos and Sofía will retain their titles of king and queen. Neither of the pair, however, will be in attendance at the coronation ceremony. The royal household has said the king would prefer to stay out of the limelight, to ensure that Felipe is the focal point of the day.

Nor will Felipe’s sister, Cristina, or her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, attend the coronation event. The pair have been in the headlines since the end of 2011, when allegations of embezzlement of public money involving Urdangarin’s business affairs emerged.

Meanwhile, Spanish authorities are preparing an unprecedented security detail for the coronation ceremony. Around 5,000 officers – from the National Police, municipal force and Civil Guard – will be on hand during the day. What’s more, the cybercrimes units of the Spanish forces will step up their activities in order to protect communication and infrastructure systems against potential attacks.

The most risky moment of the day for the authorities will be the journey that Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia, make from La Zarzuela palace to the Congress building in central Madrid, and then from there to the Royal Palace. The crown prince would like to travel in an open-top car, something the security forces are keen to avoid.

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