Spain’s King Juan Carlos I on Wednesday apologised for going elephant-hunting in Botswana as ordinary Spaniards endure the worst economic crisis for decades.
The 74-year-old broke his hip on the trip and offered a rare act of royal contrition on his release from hospital.
“I’m sorry. I made a mistake and it won’t happen again,” he said.
There have also been calls for him to quit as honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund.
Many Spaniards are angered that their head of state chose to make the lavish break at a time when half of young people are out of work and the country’s finances are under pressure.
A protester outside the Madrid clinic said it was time for the Spanish monarchy to be abolished.
“It was OK during the first years of transition to democracy, but a monarchy today in the current circumstances is out of context. I feel ashamed of my country,” he said.
But this resident of the Spanish capital defended Juan Carlos, saying kings have hunted since the middle ages.
“This is not a reason for people to ask for a republic. Spain has not been so successful as a republic. There was a civil war during the last one.”
It is not the first time the aging monarch’s love of hunting has caused concern.
In 2006, A Russian governor opened an inquiry into reports that Juan Carlos had shot and killed a bear while on holiday near Moscow.