Spain’s disgraced former king Juan Carlos was banished from the country by his son – the reigning King Felipe VI – amid the latter’s corruption scandal, sources claim.
The 82-year-old revealed on Monday that he had decided to leave Spain to help his son, the current King Felipe VI, ‘exercise his responsibilities’.
But sources revealed that it was King Felipe who cast his father out to save his family from ‘certain happenings’ relating to Juan Carlos’s relationship with his German mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.
Sayn-Wittgenstein has been placed under investigation in relation to audio recordings of a meeting between herself and retired Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo at her London home in 2015.
Spain’s disgraced former king Juan Carlos (left) was banished from the country by his son (right) – the reigning King Felipe VI – amid the latter’s corruption scandal, sources claim
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, pictured above in 2019, is the former mistress of Spain’s Juan Carlos
Pictured left to right: Then-Princess Letizia , Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos pose for a photo in 2009
In the recordings, she claimed Juan Carlos received a secret commission for helping to win a £5.5 billion Saudi rail deal and said he hid property and Swiss bank accounts under her name.
Villarejo asked for a meeting under the pretense that Spain’s intelligence services were plotting to implicate her in criminal activity and went on to leak the tapes of their conversation to the media.
A source told The Times that the German businesswoman and philanthropist ‘was different from any of his other girlfriends’ and he was ‘absolutely besotted’.
While he is immune from prosecution as he remains Spain’s ‘king emeritus’, he will answer questions from prosecutors, his lawyer said.
King Felipe pictured with former king Juan Carlos and Spain’s Queen Letizia at the Spanish National day military parade in Madrid on October 12, 2012
The former king previously said his exit is only temporary telling friends: ‘I’m not on holiday and I’m not abandoning Spain. This is just a parenthesis.’
It reported yesterday that his 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 the former king checked into the Emirates Palace Hotel on Monday evening, around the same time his letter to his son Felipe VI announcing his decision to leave Spain was made public.
It said he had taken a private plane from Vigo near Spain’s north-west border with Portugal on Monday with at least five other passengers including four bodyguards.
Juan Carlos is said to have been in a relationship with Sayn-Wittgenstein between 2004 and 2008.
The couple are already facing other legal trouble in Switzerland, where an inquiry is investigating secret offshore accounts linked to the pair.
Swiss prosecutors are examining a €65 million (£59 million) payment the former King made to Sayn-Wittgenstein in 2012 under suspicion of money laundering.
An alleged $100 million donation in 2008 – then worth €65 million – to Juan Carlos from the then-King of Saudi Arabia, is also being looked at by Yves Bertossa, a Swiss prosecutor.
Bertossa is investigating whether the donation and the subsequent payment to Sayn-Wittgenstein were connected to the payment of illegal commissions for the construction of a railway in Saudi Arabia.
The railway was constructed by a Spanish consortium in 2011.
Spain’s then King Juan Carlos (left) and Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe (centre) salute past Spain’s Queen Sofia during the Pascua Militar ceremony at the Royal Palace in Madrid
Spain’s former monarch, King Juan Carlos I (pictured), says he is leaving Spain to live in another country amid a financial scandal
Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein’s legal defence deny the payment was linked with illegal commissions, instead claiming that it was a gift.
Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy, but recent scandals have tarnished his image.
News of the former monarch’s exit is continuing to make huge waves at home.
An online petition to change the name of Madrid’s King Juan Carlos university had racked up more than 39,000 signatures on Wednesday morning.
‘Corruption cases surrounding the Royal Family keep appearing, torpedoing the image of a monarchy that had been presented to us as ‘wholesome’ and ‘humble” the petition read.
A lawyer for Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein, Robin Rathmell, said: ‘Corinna never hired or discussed hiring Villarejo and therefore never paid him for anything,’ according to The Times. ‘Our client will robustly defend her rights against these baseless accusations.’
Who is Spain’s former king, 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 who played a critical role 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 Zaragoza military academy.
He completed his tertiary education at the University of Madrid and went on to marry Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark in Athens in 1962.
They went on to have two daughters and a son together: Elena, Cristina, and Felipe.
Juan Carlos first began periodically acting as Spain’s head of state in the summer of 1974. Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in November the following year and Juan Carlos became king on 22 November 1975, two days after Franco’s death.
Juan Carlos was hailed for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy and reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime.
However the King and the monarchy’s reputation began to suffer after controversies surrounding his family arose.
In April 2012, Juan Carlos faced criticism for an elephant-hunting trip in Botswana during a time of financial crisis in Spain.
The public found out about the trip only after the King injured himself and a special aircraft was sent to bring him home.
Spanish officials stated that the expenses of the trip were not paid by taxpayers or by the palace, but by businessman Mohamed Eyad Kayali.
Corruption scandals circling the royal family closed in when his daughter, Princess Cristina, was accused of tax fraud in 2014 and became the first Spanish royal to stand trial. She was later acquitted, but her husband was sentenced.
He abdicated in favour of his son, Prince Felipe, in 2014, and last year, Juan Carlos announced his decision to withdraw from public life, ending his remaining institutional functions and appearances from June 2019. Last August, he successfully underwent heart surgery in Madrid.
In June 2020, Spain’s supreme court prosecutor opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was granted 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 reports the latter received $100 million from the late Saudi king and gave millions to a businesswoman.