The former king of Spain, Juan Carlos, announced on Monday he was abandoning his country amid a Spanish court investigation into a lucrative business contract and a separate money laundering and tax evasion probe in Switzerland.
In a letter released by the royal household and addressed to King Felipe VI, his son and Spain’s current monarch, Juan Carlos said that his decision to leave amid the multiple inquiries was taken “with the same eagerness to serve Spain that inspired my reign.”
In a brief response, King Felipe thanked his father and stressed the importance of his legacy, while at the same time underlining Spain’s adherence to the rule of law and the values enshrined in its Constitution.
In 2014, King Juan Carlos abdicated in favor of his son, amid health problems and a series of personal scandals that were already undermining the reputation of Spain’s monarchy.
But six years later, Juan Carlos, 82, has continued to cast a long and troublesome shadow over the royal household, as his mounting judicial problems have also been accompanied by a steady flow of embarrassing media stories about his past lifestyle and personal wealth.
His departure could fuel Spain’s political and social debate over the monarchy, with Spain’s left-wing deputy prime minister, Pablo Iglesias, describing the decision of Juan Carlos to leave as a “flight abroad,” which he called “unworthy of a former head of state.”
Juan Carlos’s troubles come as the integrity of other members of European royal households has been questioned.
Federal prosecutors in New York have accused Prince Andrew of Britain of refusing to assist in their investigation into allegations of sex trafficking and other crimes by the financier Jeffrey Epstein. In January, King Albert II, the former monarch of Belgium, was forced to acknowledge fathering a child after years of lawsuits.
Juan Carlos left his residency in the Zarzuela royal palace, on the outskirts of Madrid, but he did not say to which foreign country he would relocate, nor did he discuss what his decision would mean for his wife, Queen Sofia.
Wittgenstein. King Juan Carlos has not himself been placed under investigation in Switzerland, but his son, King Felipe, cut ties with Lucum after finding out that he had been named as a beneficiary of the fund.
Spain then launched its own investigation, in part based on information shared by the Swiss prosecutor about the large payment made by Saudi Arabia to Lucum.
It is unclear what the former monarch’s departure will mean for his legal problems. The chances of Juan Carlos appearing in court in Madrid were slim, as he continues to benefit from legal immunity.