Hundreds protest return of Spain ex-king Juan Carlos

Hundreds protest return of Spain ex-king Juan Carlos

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Hundreds protest return of Spain ex-king Juan Carlos

Hundreds protest return of Spain ex-king Juan Carlos

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Hundreds of protestors rallied in Madrid on Sunday against tarnished former King Juan Carlos I, whose return to Spain after nearly two years of self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates has stirred controversy.

Holding signs reading “Justice” and “The Bourbon in prison”, the demonstrators gathered near the Spanish capital’s royal palace. A government spokesman put their number at 300.

Juan Carlos this week returned to Spain for the first time since August 2020 to attend a regatta, after investigations into alleged corruption and money laundering were shelved in March.

The 84-year-old was admired for his role in Spain’s democratic transition following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, but revelations about the opaque origins of his fortune have tarnished his reputation among many Spaniards.

The former monarch is due to visit his son King Felipe VI in Madrid on Monday before returning to the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi, his new permanent residence.

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Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government still expects “explanations” from Juan Carlos, who abdicated in favour of Felipe in 2014. Media reports say the government opposes his staying at the Zarzuela Palace, Felipe’s official residence.

Hundreds of onlookers greeted Juan Carlos in the northwest port of Sanxenxo, where he competed in the regatta this weekend, yelling “Long live the king, long live Spain!”

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