Former king Juan Carlos meets Felipe VI to conclude controversial return to Spain

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
uan Carlos waves before a reception at a nautical club in Sanxenxo on Friday.
uan Carlos waves before a reception at a nautical club in Sanxenxo on Friday.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar

Spain's former King Juan Carlos I met his son and the country's current monarch Felipe VI at the end of a controversial return visit. 

The 84-year-old made his way to the Zarzuela Palace on Monday for the first time since he went into exile in the United Arab Emirates in August 2020.

Juan Carlos greeted journalists and a few dozen supporters gathered in front of the royal family's official residence in Madrid before a private family gathering.

He then left for Abu Dhabi where he will live "permanently," according to a statement from Spain's Royal Household.

The visit was marred by the long-standing allegations of corruption and money laundering that dogged the final years of his reign. In March, Spain's judiciary announced that had closed investigations "due to the lack of incriminating evidence, the statute of limitations on the offences, and [his] immunity".

The ex-monarch had spent the weekend in Galicia attending a regatta and seeing his friends in the coastal town of Sanxenxo. He then travelled to Madrid on Monday to meet Felipe and Queen Sofía.

Government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez told public broadcaster RNE that over the three days the ex-monarch “missed an opportunity” to “provide explanations and ask for forgiveness.”

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had also said that Juan Carlos owes the people of Spain "an explanation" about his financial affairs.

Spain's current king has sought to distance himself from the scandals since his accession in 2014 following his father's abdication. In March 2020, Felipe renounced Juan Carlos' inheritance and withdrew his annual allowance of almost €200,000.

Last month, Felipe also pledged to increase financial transparency in the royal household and to make all its contracts public. "Felipe VI is doing a great job to recover what makes the essence of a state institution, namely transparency and exemplarity," Rodríguez said on Monday.