The criticism of the former King Juan Carlos continues

Juan Carlos hopes to be back home in Spain in “a few weeks”. The retired monarch only wants to live “as a simple citizen without privileges” in his homeland, said unnamed friends of the newspaper “El Mundo”. But the nearly 4.4 million euros that Juan Carlos voluntarily transferred to the tax office to settle old tax debts do not seem to pave the way for him to get home quickly from Abu Dhabi. His admission that he had a distant cousin’s foundation pay for private flights worth at least eight million euros has outraged many Spaniards. The monarchy is not getting out of its permanent crisis the more details become known about the luxurious lifestyle of Juan Carlos, who after his abdication in 2014 showed little interest in the current tax laws.

At the weekend doubts arose again that he had really cleared the table with his two voluntary back payments to the tax authorities – in December it was almost 700,000 euros. According to press reports, he apparently traveled the world not only for five but a total of twelve years without paying for it. There are more and more bills for flights in private jets, for example worth 106,000 euros to Bermuda – without food.

That was more than half of the state allowance that he received up to a year ago. The monarch was repeatedly in the Caribbean, but also in New York and the Gulf. A call to the Liechtenstein Zagatka Foundation of his distant cousin Álvaro de Orleans was enough and the plane from a British charter company was ready for him. One of the foundation’s aims until 2018 was expressly to support the royal family out of gratitude for their services to Spanish democracy.

Graffiti by the Spanish artist Roc BlackBlock shows King Felipe VI (left), the former King Juan Carlos (center) and the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.


Graffiti by the Spanish artist Roc BlackBlock shows King Felipe VI (left), the former King Juan Carlos (center) and the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
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Image: AFP

His debt to the tax office is now allegedly taken over by rich friends. About a dozen businessmen and noblemen granted him private loans because Juan Carlos apparently does not have enough money from unproblematic sources, as the tax office demands. It is also not clear who has been paying for his stay in Abu Dhabi since August. He had withdrawn to the Gulf after the corruption allegations against him increasingly burdened his son Felipe and the monarchy. At first it was said that he was the guest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed; both are considered old friends. The last photo, which was circulated on February 15, shows the 83-year-old monarch on the terrace of a villa on the island of Nurai off Abu Dhabi. It is said to have six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a swimming pool and access to a private beach.

Still, Juan Carlos wants nothing more than to fly home. He has not yet been charged in Spain, but there are three preliminary investigations against him. Displeasure with the monarch, whom many venerate as the midwife of democracy, has also grown. Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he “like most Spaniards profoundly reject his anti-social behavior”. His coalition partners from the left-wing alternative Podemos party accuse the tax authorities of “passivity” and want to know whether Juan Carlos was given preferential treatment. Together with other parties, they are calling for a parliamentary investigation. For the newspaper “El País” what Juan Carlos did is a “disgrace” that taints the whole political system.

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