Spain’s former king Juan Carlos, at the centre of an alleged $100-million corruption scandal, has reportedly fled to Portugal after a shock announcement that he was going into exile.
The 82-year-old revealed on Monday that he had decided to leave Spain to help his son, the current King Felipe VI, ‘exercise his responsibilities’.
The letter, published by the royal palace, did not mention where he would go, nor when exactly he would leave.
Spanish media went into overdrive today about where Juan Carlos had fled as the palace refused to reveal further information.
Online newspaper El Confidencial said the former head of state was in Portugal, where he spent part of his youth, at the town of Azeitao, 18 miles south of the capital Lisbon.
He was ‘staying with the Brito e Cunha-Espirito Santo family that he has maintained friendly relations with’ since his own family’s exile during the Franco dictatorship.
‘Until further notice, this will be his residence after he ruled out other more distant destinations such as the Dominican Republic or New Zealand,’ said El Confidencial.
Daily newspaper ABC had earlier reported that Juan Carlos left Spain on Sunday and flew to the Dominican Republic via Portugal.
Dominican television station Canal de Noticias even said the country was ‘carrying out preparations for his arrival’.
However the Republic soon denied that the ex-king had entered the country. The foreign ministry told AFP it had ‘no information’ about Juan Carlos spending time there.
King Felipe pictured with former king Juan Carlos and Spain’s Queen Letizia at the Spanish National day military parade in Madrid on October 12, 2012. Spain’s former king Juan Carlos, who is under investigation for corruption, has announced he plans to go into exile
Quinta do Peru, in Quinta do Conde, Portugal, where Spain’s former king Juan Carlos, at the centre of an alleged $100-million corruption scandal, has reportedly fled according to Spanish media
He was ‘staying with the Brito e Cunha-Espirito Santo family that he has maintained friendly relations with’ since his own family’s exile during the Franco dictatorship
A spokeswoman for the Dominican immigration service, Mariela Caamano, said he had not ‘entered the country’s territory, contrary to certain statements indicating he has arrived early Tuesday.’
Caamano added that Juan Carlos was last in the Dominican Republic from February 28 to March 2 this year.
In Madrid, a royal palace spokesman refused to reveal his whereabouts saying: ‘The only information we have is the information which was published on the website of the royal palace yesterday.’
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he did not know where Juan Carlos had gone but suggested King Felipe had pressured his father to go abroad.
‘The government and I completely respect the decision of the royal palace to distance itself from the questionable and reprehensible conduct’ of a member of the royal family, Sanchez told a press conference.
Former queen Sofia, who has lived separately from the ex-king for many years, is still in Spain, a source close the palace told AFP.
The self-imposed exile comes after a series of historic scandals involving the long-serving monarch, who abdicated in June 2014 after four decades on the throne.
Spain’s former monarch, King Juan Carlos I (pictured), says he is leaving Spain to live in another country amid a financial scandal
His reputation has nosedived since his abdication with continuing rumours about lovers, corruption and Swiss bank accounts.
Spanish authorities are currently investigating whether he received a secret commission for helping to win a £5.5 billion Saudi rail deal after a former mistress made the allegations privately.
The royal family’s website on Monday published a letter from Juan Carlos to his son, King Felipe VI, saying ‘I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain.’
It was previously claimed that Juan Carlos was staying at the Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, a 7,000-acre resort less than an hour’s drive from Santo Domingo International Airport where stars including Beyonce and Michael Jordan have holidayed.
Juan Carlos is said to have visited the tropical seaside resort in La Romana on the Dominican Republic’s south-east coast several times.
The Caribbean coastline and golf course of Casa De Campo resort where Juan Carlos was previously thought to have been staying
Pictured: A view of one of the luxury villas on the Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic, where it is rumoured that former King Juan Carlos is staying after his self-imposed exile
Pictured: A view of the swimming pool on the Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic, where it is rumoured that former King Juan Carlos is staying after his self-imposed exile
King Felipe VI of Spain (second left), his wife Queen Letizia (left), their daughters Princess Sofia (front left) and Princess Leonor (front right), former King Juan Carlos I (second right) and his wife former Queen Sofia (right) pose before attending the traditional Easter Sunday Mass of Resurrection in Palma de Mallorca on April 1, 2018
It was originally a retreat for Austrian-born American industrialist Charles Bluhdorn, but became the first resort in the country when he died in 1983.
Pepe Fanjul, known by his nickname rather than his real first name of Jose, brought Casa De Campo in 1984 along with his three brothers Alfonso, Alexander and Andres through their companies.
They subsequently opened it up to paying guests.
The sugar magnate has spoken in interviews of the mansion he part owns, part of a complex which includes a main house and three bungalows the family use as well as dozens of holiday villas, three golf clubs, restaurants, an equestrian centre with polo fields, private beaches and even a church.
He told Architectural Digest in 2007 how he fell in love with the Dominican Republic while on business and stayed ‘for love’, adding: ‘I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a house in the Caribbean, a very airy, outdoor atmosphere—not busy—with ocean views from every window and lots of grass and greens, since my wife is an expert gardener.
‘We didn’t want a marble palace; nothing formal like our New York apartment or even my ranch, just something that fit the area, a Caribbean feel—Bali Caribbean, if you will.’
In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement with a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia
His niece Lillian Fernandez added: ‘It’s a typical Balinese house—totally open, no window treatments, because the only thing we do inside is sleep.’
Travel reviews describe Casa de Campo as a ‘preferred Caribbean jet-set getaway and golf haven’ which has ‘set the benchmark for luxury travel in the Dominican Republic since the 70s.’
Celeb visitors have included Beyonce and Jay-Z, late fashion idol Oscar de la Renta, the Kardashians and Michael Jordan, who hosted his batchelor party at Villa Vogue at Casa de Campo in 2013.
The Kardashian family filmed two episodes of the hit ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ reality TV show at Casa de Campo.
Spain’s prime minister recently said he found the developments about Juan Carlos – including investigations in Spain and Switzerland – ‘disturbing.’
In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement with a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia after Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported he had received $100 million from the late Saudi King.
Former king Juan Carlos told his son, King Felipe, that he decided to leave Spain, the royal house said in a statement on Monday. Above, former Spanish King Juan Carlos congratulates Spain’s Prince Felipe VI during the ceremony of approval and enactment of a law bringing into effect King Juan Carlo’s abdication in the Columns Hall at the Royal Palace in Madrid on June 18, 2014
It is not clear where the former king will move to, although sources in Spain have speculated the Dominican Republic could be one possible country. Above, Juan Carlos shakes hands with Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican in 2014
Juan Carlos of Spain and his wife Queen Sofia of Spain salute the crowd from the balcony of the Oriental Palace in Madrid in 2004
Spain’s King Juan Carlos I attends a reception at the Swedish embassy in Madrid on September 24, 2009
Juan Carlos allegedly then transferred a large amount to a former companion in what investigators are considering as a possible attempt to hide the money from authorities.
Through his lawyer, Juan Carlos, 82, has repeatedly declined to comment on the allegations.
The former King said in a letter to his son, made public today: ‘Guided by my conviction I can offer the best service to Spaniards, its institutions and to you as King, I am communicating my decision to move away from Spain.
‘It’s a decision I am taking with deep feeling but with great serenity.
‘I have been King of Spain for almost 40 years and during that whole time, I’ve always wanted the best for Spain and for the Crown.’
He signed off the letter: ‘With affection as always, your father.’
Juan Carlos I of Spain and his wife Queen Sofia pose for an official portrait in Madrid in February 2020
Spanish TV analysts immediately dubbed the former monarch’s announcement he was quitting Spain as a ‘back-door’ exit.
Journalist Gema Lopez insisted his decision should not prevent a full investigation into Juan Carlos’s business activities going ahead.
She added: ‘The day he dies, I am not sure the historical revisionism of how he has acted will be as favourable as it has been up to now.’
She also questioned whether he could ever receive a state funeral.
Juan Carlos I reigned as King of Spain from 1975 to 2014 when he abdicated in favour of his son Felipe VI.
He has three children with his wife of 75 years Sofia. Their relationship since his abdication is said to have been virtually non-existent and it has been claimed they last shared a bed more than 40 years ago.
Barcelona-based author Pilar Eyre, an expert on the Spanish royal family, made an explosive claim about Juan Carlos and Diana in a book she published in 2012.
She said the Spanish monarch made a pass at her during a holiday Diana and Charles spent with their son at the king’s summer palace in Majorca in 1986.
According to Eyre, the king made a ‘tactile’ advance to Diana, then just 25.
Diana herself denied anything untoward had happened but admitted that while the libidinous king was ‘charming’ he could be a ‘little too attentive.’
Juan Carlos had to make a grovelling apology in April 2012 over a controversial elephant hunting trip to Botswana at the height of Spain’s economic crisis.
Juan Carlos I reigned as King of Spain from 1975 to 2014 when he abdicated in favour of his son Felipe VI. Above, Carlos and his wife d Queen Sofia of Spain attend an ATP Madrid Open semi-final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 11, 2019
King Felipe VI of Spain stands with his father former King Juan Carlos I and one of his daughters Princess Leonor as they arrive with other members of the royal family to attend the traditional Easter Sunday Mass of Resurrection in Palma de Mallorca on April 1, 2018
The trip came to light after he broke his hip in a fall and had to be flown back to Madrid for surgery
Belgian housewife Ingrid Sartiau launched a paternity suit against Juan Carlos shortly after his abdication, claiming her mum told her: ‘That man’s your father’ when he flashed up on TV before revealing details to her of a one-night stand in Luxembourg in 1966.
Spain’s Supreme Court announced in March 2015 it had refused to accept Ingrid’s lawsuit.
Juan Carlos’s health is said to be ‘very delicate.’
A formal announcement on the former Spanish King’s future is expected after his son and ex-journalist wife Letizia Ortiz finish a national tour designed partly to boost Spanish tourism.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia travelled to Benidorm at the start of the month and met British tourists on a meet-and-greet in the famous Costa Blanca resort.
Who is Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos I?
Juan Carlos I reigned as king of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014
Juan Carlos I reigned as king of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014.
He was a popular monarch for most of his four-decade reign who played a critical role in the country’s transition to democracy.
He is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent declaration of the Second Spanish Republic.
Juan Carlos was born in Rome, Italy, on January 5, 1938, during his family’s exile. He came to Spain in 1947 to continue his studies and entered the Zaragoza military academy.
He completed his tertiary education at the University of Madrid and went on to marry Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark in Athens in 1962.
They went on to have two daughters and a son together: Elena, Cristina, and Felipe.
Juan Carlos first began periodically acting as Spain’s head of state in the summer of 1974. Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in November the following year and Juan Carlos became king on 22 November 1975, two days after Franco’s death.
Juan Carlos was hailed for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy and reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime.
However the King and the monarchy’s reputation began to suffer after controversies surrounding his family arose.
In April 2012, Juan Carlos faced criticism for an elephant-hunting trip in Botswana during a time of financial crisis in Spain.
The public found out about the trip only after the King injured himself and a special aircraft was sent to bring him home.
Spanish officials stated that the expenses of the trip were not paid by taxpayers or by the palace, but by businessman Mohamed Eyad Kayali.
Corruption scandals circling the royal family closed in when his daughter, Princess Cristina, was accused of tax fraud in 2014 and became the first Spanish royal to stand trial. She was later acquitted, but her husband was sentenced.
He abdicated in favour of his son, Prince Felipe, in 2014, and last year, Juan Carlos announced his decision to withdraw from public life, ending his remaining institutional functions and appearances from June 2019. Last August, he successfully underwent heart surgery in Madrid.
In June 2020, Spain’s supreme court prosecutor opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was granted to a group of Spanish companies in 2011.
King Felipe renounced his own inheritance and stripped his father of his palace allowance in March after reports the latter received $100 million from the late Saudi king and gave millions to a businesswoman.