Former Spanish King Juan Carlos was banished from the country by his son – reigning King Felipe VI – amid the latter’s corruption scandal, sources say.
The 82-year-old revealed on Monday that he has decided to leave Spain to help his son, the current King Felipe VI, “carry out his responsibilities”.
But sources have revealed that it was King Felipe who drove his father out to save his family from “certain events” linked to Juan Carlos’ relationship with his German mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein – with some fears he might not not come back.
Sayn-Wittgenstein has been investigated for audio recordings of a meeting between herself and retired Spanish Police Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo at her London home in 2015.
Former Spanish King Juan Carlos (left) has been banished from the country by his son (right) – reigning King Felipe VI – amid the latter’s corruption scandal, sources say
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, pictured above in 2019, is the former mistress of Spaniard Juan Carlos
Pictured from left to right: Princess Letizia, Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos pose for a photo in 2009
In the tapes, she claimed Juan Carlos was given a secret commission for helping to win a £ 5.5 billion Saudi rail deal.
Villarejo called for a meeting on the pretext that Spanish intelligence services were plotting to implicate him in criminal activity and then leaked the tapes of their conversation to the media.
A source told the Sunday Times that the German businesswoman and philanthropist “was different from one of her other girlfriends” and that he was “absolutely obsessed.”
Although he is safe from prosecution because he remains the “emeritus king” of Spain, he will answer questions from prosecutors, his lawyer said.
King Felipe pictured with former King Juan Carlos and Spanish Queen Letizia during the Spanish National Day military parade in Madrid on October 12, 2012
The former king had previously said his exit was only temporary, telling his friends: “I’m not on vacation and I’m not giving up on Spain. This is only a parenthesis.
It was reported yesterday that her current hideaway is a £ 10,000-a-night presidential suite in one of the world’s most expensive hotels in Abu Dhabi.
Respected right-wing Spanish daily ABC reported that the former king showed up at the Emirates Palace Hotel on Monday evening, around the same time his letter to his son Felipe VI announcing his decision to leave Spain had been made public.
He said he took a private plane from Vigo near Spain’s northwestern border with Portugal on Monday with at least five other passengers, including four bodyguards.
Juan Carlos is said to have maintained a relationship with Sayn-Wittgenstein between 2004 and 2008.
The couple are already facing other legal issues in Switzerland, where an investigation is investigating secret offshore accounts linked to the pair.
Swiss prosecutors are examining a payment of € 65million (£ 59million) the former king made to Sayn-Wittgenstein in 2012 on suspicion of money laundering.
An alleged gift of $ 100 million in 2008 – then worth 65 million euros – to Juan Carlos from the then King of Saudi Arabia is also being examined by Yves Bertossa, a Swiss prosecutor .
Bertossa is investigating whether the donation and subsequent payment to Sayn-Wittgenstein was linked to the payment of illegal commissions for the construction of a railway in Saudi Arabia.
The railway was built by a Spanish consortium in 2011.
The then King of Spain Juan Carlos (left) and the Crown Prince of Spain Felipe (center) greet the Queen of Spain Sofia during the Pascua Militar ceremony at the Royal Palace in Madrid
Former Spanish monarch King Juan Carlos I (pictured) says he’s leaving Spain to live in another country amid financial scandal
Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein’s legal defense denied the payment was linked to illegal commissions, claiming instead that it was a giveaway.
Juan Carlos ascended to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and has been widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy, but recent scandals have tarnished his image.
News of the ex-monarch’s exit continues to make huge waves at home.
An online petition to change the name of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid had collected more than 39,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
“Cases of corruption surrounding the royal family continue to emerge, torpedoing the image of a monarchy which had been presented to us as ‘healthy’ and ‘humble’,” the petition reads.
A lawyer for Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein, Robin Rathmell, said: “Corinna has never hired or discussed hiring Villarejo and therefore never paid him for anything,” according to the Times. “Our client will stand up for her rights firmly against these baseless accusations. “
Who is the former King of Spain, 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 which was instrumental 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 military academy in Zaragoza.
He completed his graduate studies at the University of Madrid and married Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark in Athens in 1962.
They then had two daughters and a son together: Elena, Cristina and Felipe.
Juan Carlos began to act periodically as head of state of Spain in the summer of 1974. Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in November of the following year and Juan Carlos became king on November 22, 1975, two days later. Franco’s death.
Juan Carlos was praised for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy and the reforms aimed at dismantling the Franco regime.
However, the king and the reputation of the monarchy began to suffer after the controversies surrounding his family.
In April 2012, Juan Carlos was criticized for an elephant hunting trip to Botswana during a time of financial crisis in Spain.
The public only found out about the trip after the king was injured and a special plane was dispatched to bring him home.
Spanish officials said the travel costs were not paid by taxpayers or the palace, but by businessman Mohamed Eyad Kayali.
Corruption scandals surrounding the royal family ended when her daughter, Princess Cristina, was charged with tax evasion in 2014 and became the first Spanish royal to stand trial. She was later acquitted, but her husband was convicted.
He abdicated in favor of his son, Prince Felipe, in 2014, and last year Juan Carlos announced his decision to step down from public life, ending his remaining institutional functions and appearances from June 2019. Last August, he underwent successful heart surgery in Madrid. .
In June 2020, the prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Spain opened an investigation into the involvement of Juan Carlos in a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia that was awarded 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 the latter received $ 100 million from the late Saudi King and gave millions to a businesswoman.