The emeritus king left the Palacio de la Zarzuela after nine o’clock at night on Monday after spending 11 hours in what was his residence for 57 years. Juan Carlos I has met with Felipe VI, and both “have had a long conversation about family issues, as well as about different events and their consequences in Spanish society since the King’s father decided to move to Abu Dhabi on the 3rd of August of the year 2020″, according to a brief statement from the Casa del Rey.
Next, the king emeritus has participated in a family meal attended by Kings Felipe VI and Letizia, and their youngest daughter, the Infanta Sofía; the infanta Elena and her children; and the infanta Margarita, sister of Juan Carlos I, and her husband, Carlos Zurita. As explained by the royal house, Queen Sofía “has not been able to share lunch having tested positive for covid upon her return from Miami, although she has remained with the rest of the family in the lunch room provided with the mandatory mask and the appropriate ventilation measures.
Doña Sofía returned on Sunday from Miami (United States), where she participated in the commemorative events of the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the globe by the Magellan-Elcano expedition. Precisely, the absence of his wife had been used to implicitly justify that the king emeritus go to Sanxenxo (Pontevedra) before appearing at La Zarzuela, as would have been logical both family and institutionally. Princess Leonor, who is studying the International Baccalaureate at a boarding school in Wales, could not be present at the meeting, and the Infanta Cristina, sister of Felipe VI, has not attended either.
The emeritus king has embarked on the return trip to the United Arab Emirates (USA) on the same plane (a Gulfstream G-450 from an Angolan business flight company) in which he arrived at Peinador airport in Vigo on Thursday, and that has transferred him this morning to Madrid. With his departure late on Monday from the Palacio de la Zarzuela, the condition that the Casa del Rey had imposed on him, in agreement with La Moncloa, that he not spend the night in his old home, since it is not a question of only from the residence of the Royal Family, but also from the headquarters of the Head of State.
In the statement from the Casa del Rey it is recalled that, in his letter of March 5, Juan Carlos I stated, “in the first place, his desire to establish his place of residence permanently and stable in Abu Dhabi for personal reasons; and secondly, his decision to organize his personal life and his place of residence in private spheres, both during his visits and if in the future he were to reside in Spain again, to continue enjoying the as much privacy as possible.” In other words, when he returns to Spain, temporarily or permanently, for which there is no impediment but there is no date, the king emeritus will not stay in La Zarzuela or in any other official residence. “All this, together with the other points that appear in said letter, constitutes the reference framework for the activities of His Majesty King Juan Carlos,” adds the Royal House. Although the paragraph seems to open the door to a definitive return of Juan Carlos I to Spain, it does nothing but repeat the text made public at the time.
During the first four days of his stay in Spain, the king emeritus has participated in the regattas that were held in Sanxenxo (Pontevedra) and has stayed at the house of the president of the yacht club of this tourist town in the Rías Baixas and a personal friend, Pedro Campos, in the middle of a media exposure that has notably upset the King’s House, which has probably been the subject of his long talk with Felipe VI.
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In contrast to the media coverage of his stay in Sanxenxo, Juan Carlos I’s visit to La Zarzuela has been surrounded by absolute opacity. The Casa del Rey has not reported during the day who attended the family reunion and has not even anticipated if there would be a press release or graphic testimony of the meeting once it was over. Finally, the first has existed, but not the second. The agenda of the Royal Family was blank for this Monday, without any official act scheduled, and the Casa del Rey had limited itself to pointing out that the visit of the Monarch’s father to La Zarzuela constituted “a family meeting in the private sphere”.
The circumstances that have surrounded the first stay in Spain of the emeritus king after 654 days abroad have caused deep discomfort in La Zarzuela, which wanted an austere and discreet visit, after the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office filed in March the investigations that it had open on his assets in tax havens, not because he did not appreciate the existence of crimes, but because these would be prescribed, protected by the umbrella of inviolability or neutralized by the two tax regularizations that he carried out in 2020 and 2021.
The stay of Don Juan Carlos has also fueled the division between the political forces around the Monarchy. The PSOE has not held its tongue when criticizing his conduct, while the minority partner of the Government, United We Can, has directly attacked the Crown. Among others, the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has considered it “unavoidable” that Juan Carlos I give explanations in the face of “very serious” events and has lamented that he has lost a “golden opportunity” to do so on this trip, which He has taken the opportunity only to “go out to the sea and have a barbecue”. On the contrary, the PP has closed ranks around the king emeritus and its new president, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has accused the Government of “discrediting the Head of State.” When on Sunday a reporter asked Juan Carlos I in Sanxenxo if she planned to give explanations to his son on Monday, she replied with a laugh: “Explanations of what?”
Sources close to the king emeritus assure that he has complied with the conditions that were agreed for his return to Spain, which he signed with Felipe VI in the telephone conversation that both had on the 15th, when the King went to Abu Dhabi to offer condolences to the Emirati royal family on the occasion of the death of Sheikh Khalifa. This is the only conversation between father and son that the Casa del Rey has reported in the almost 22 months that the former has been absent from Spain.
The King Emeritus arrived at the Palacio de la Zarzuela at ten o’clock this Monday morning, directly from the airport. With a jacket and tie, he has accessed the premises in a vehicle in which he occupied the passenger seat. Fifty admirers have received him with Spanish flags in the Somontes complex, at the entrance to the estate where the Palacio de la Zarzuela is located, while shouting “Long live the king!” Juan Carlos I has greeted them with his hand from the vehicle, which has not stopped.
This visit of the King Emeritus to Spain, surrounded by controversy, will not foreseeably be the last in the immediate future. The mayor of Sanxenxo, Telmo Martín, has already announced that he will be back between June 14 and 19, to defend the world title of the 6mR class that he won with the sailboat Rascal in Finland in 2019.