Spain’s Royal Household brought two weeks of uncertainty to an end on Monday, and confirmed that the emeritus king, Juan Carlos I, has been in the United Arab Emirates since he decided to leave the country as accusations mounted against him of financial wrongdoing.
In a very brief statement, the Zarzuela Palace said that “H. M. King Juan Carlos has instructed the Royal Household of His Majesty the King to announce that on August 3 he traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he is currently located.”
The fact that the whereabouts of the father of the current king of Spain, Felipe VI, were unknown to the general public gave weight to arguments made by critics of Juan Carlos I that he had fled Spain like a fugitive, and created an uncomfortable situation both for the Spanish government and the Royal Household. It also endangered the objective of Juan Carlos I’s departure from the country: the protection of the royal family itself as an institution in the wake of the scandal caused by the probe into the former monarch’s finances.
Juan Carlos I left the Zarzuela palace on August 2 and spent the night with his sailing friends in Sanxenxo, Pontevedra, according to the palace statement. The next day he took a private jet, which picked him up from Vigo airport in Galicia and took him to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, the text continued.
The rental of the plane, a Global 6500 model with registration 9H-VBIG, and which belongs to the company TAG Aviation, cost €140,000, according to Spanish daily Abc. It is not known who covered the cost of the flight.
Earlier on Monday, the Spanish government offered guarantees that Juan Carlos I would return to Spain should he be cited to appear in court as part of the probe into his finances. “I don’t know where he is but that’s not the most important thing,” said Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo during an interview with the Cadena SER radio network on Monday. “If the justice system is looking for him, he will immediately appear. I am convinced that when the justice system calls for him, he will appear. We have to let the justice system comply with its constitutional role,” the minister added.
English version by Simon Hunter.