The Spanish monarchy is in crisis following King Juan Carlos’ self-imposed exile

Spanish Royals attend Easter Mass in Palma de Mallorca

I really get a kick out legit news sites doing royal coverage! It’s one of my favorite things when the New York Times covers something involving the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, or when Politico does a story on King Juan Carlos’ self-imposed exile from Spain. We learned of Juan Carlos’ exile on Monday and the only thing confirmed is that the former king was allowed to leave the country rather suddenly after months of increasingly awful stories about his $100 million kickback from the House of Saud. Juan Carlos abdicated the throne in 2014, and it’s widely believed that King Felipe (Juan Carlos’ oldest son) has been kept “clean” and insulated away from his father’s financial crimes. But that has not stopped Spanish republicans from questioning whether the Spanish monarchy has outlived its usefulness. This Politico story is full of interesting anti-monarchist political gossip:

Spanish republicans are hoping that their moment has come — but the monarchy’s constitutional shield will be hard to crack. Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I shocked the world on Monday by announcing that he was leaving the country that he ruled for nearly 34 years due to the “public repercussions of certain past developments” of his private life.

But while disgust over the former king’s alleged misdeeds has filled the sails of republicanism, proponents of ditching the monarchy will need more than a continued fair political wind. The institution enjoys formidable constitutional protections — baked in by the country’s elite in the years after Juan Carlos was put in place by former dictator Francisco Franco — that are effectively impregnable. And it has powerful friends in the Spanish business and media world.

The royal household hopes that the ex-king’s self-imposed exile will allow his son Felipe VI — to whom Juan Carlos abdicated the throne in 2014 — to distance himself from the scandals and weather the storm (although friends of the former king who spoke to El Mundo hope he will be back in the country next month). The current king might find it hard to separate himself from his father’s deeds as details emerge suggesting that the successor benefited from questionable cash, and as Swiss and Spanish prosecutors look into the alleged financial misdeeds committed by the former monarch.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez sought to shield the current king from criticism on Tuesday by insisting that “institutions are not judged, people are.” He added that his coalition government’s commitment to the monarchy remained firm and appealed in favor of “stability and robust institutions” amid the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn. But members of his own coalition government undermined that stance by questioning the state’s decision to let Juan Carlos leave Spanish soil — as well as the continuity of the crown itself.

Shortly after the announcement, Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias — leader of the leftist Podemos party — said that by “fleeing abroad” the ex-king had behaved in a manner “unbefitting” of a head of state, and ultimately left the monarchy “in a very compromised position.”

During a radio interview on Cadena SER on Tuesday, Equality Minister Irene Montero blasted the royal household for greenlighting the exit and linked the former monarch to his successor by declaring that it was “impossible to separate the decisions taken by the emeritus king from both his position as king or from his family.” Hours later, Iglesias and Montero’s parliamentary group went further by issuing a statement openly calling for a “plurinational republic where social, civil and political rights are guaranteed for all people and where, in truth, justice is the same for all.”

[From Politico]

Politico points out that Spanish social media has been abuzz with republican sentiments too, and there was apparently a national survey in April showing that 62.3% of Spanish people wanted a national referendum on the monarchy. That being said, Franco really did make the monarchy difficult to dismantle, so nothing may come of it. Nothing but really bad press for King Felipe, that is. Politico slipped in that detail about how Felipe might have benefited from his father’s ill-gotten gains too, huh??

Spanish Royals Video Conference at Zarzuela Palace

Spanish Royals visit  the Roman Museum and the Roman theater in Merida, Spain

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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55 Responses to “The Spanish monarchy is in crisis following King Juan Carlos’ self-imposed exile”

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  1. notasugarhere says:

    Not sure what other funds they’re insinuating. Felipe already renounced any inheritance from his father back in March.

    • Michelle says:

      You can’t renounce something you haven’t received. Note that JC fled to the Fanjuls who owned Domino sugar- a family that fled Cuba. Very big in Palm Beach and friends with Trump. Huge Republican donors.

      Felipe and Letizia distanced themselves from JC during the Christina mess but it still wasn’t enough. I think they mean well but the damage to the institute is irrevocable and there is more stuff coming.

      • notasugarhere says:

        iirc he renounced any inheritance now or in the future.

      • Rose says:

        @notasugarhere it´s not possible, under Spanish law, to renounce to an inheritance you haven´t received. So basically we have to take his word for it, until the moment he actually inherits and renounces to it (if he does). He also announced he had taken way his father´s annual grant from the government , which people took to mean that money would revert back to the State´s budget. Turns out the Royals are still keeping that money, it´s just not going to JC anymore (supposedly).

      • JaneBee says:

        @Michelle, Thanks for the info re: hiding out with the Fanjul family. Had wondered where JC was going to resurface.

        First came across the Fanjul family a year ago after reading an article on their abusive labor practices and disgusting treatment of their workers… Sound like lovely people.

      • Palmasan says:

        That was the first info and maybe he’ll end up there at some point, but the plane changed course and JC is now in Emirates… There are pics and all, bit no official confirmation of course:

  2. OriginalLala says:

    It’s the 21st century – all monarchies have outlived their usefulness.

    • Sara says:


    • Ines says:


    • minime says:

      You said it all. There’s no reason that can justify why someone should be given this kind of power and money based solely on which family they are born. Not one reason. I do like Filipe and Letizia, still I bet they could live a pretty awesome life out of monarchy. I’m actually happily awaiting for the day Letizia talks openly about her life in the monarchy. I think she would have a lot to say.

    • Sunday says:

      Nailed it.

    • MaryContrary says:

      Exactly this. The whole concept is ridiculous and beyond irrelevant.

    • Char says:

      Especially a monarchy that was instituted by a cruel dictator like Franco.

    • MA says:

      +1 It’s sad because Felipe, Letizia and their daughters are far more useful and accomplished than their British counterparts but still… #abolishthemonarchy

    • SpankFD says:

      Yep, these monarchies entrenched to extract wealth from everyone else under the assumption they’d protect the common people from…other monarchs? Talk about an asymmetric bargain. Ditch ’em.

      I’m hoping they find the guts to ditch the monarchy and hold the complicit accountable. So should we.

    • notasugarhere says:

      6 out of the top 10 Happiest Countries are monarchies. Are people happiest in those countries because life is so good – they don’t mind the millions spent on monarchies?

    • Jen says:


  3. A says:

    They stuck in that note about the current king because Felipe was named a hereditary heir of (at least) one of the shady money-hiding shells Juan Carlos set up. Earlier this year he promised he would not inherit any of his dad’s money given how tainted his business connections were, so what clearly wasn’t a good look to begin with looks even worse now that we’re getting a clearer picture of how dirty the money is. Also, Juan Carlos’ girlfriend, who is also caught up in this scandal, was recorded saying the former king paid for all kinds of stuff for his family. And that’s just this twist because there’s plenty more to do with Felipe’s sister and brother-in-law as well. That family’s a mess.

    • Michelle says:

      Christina’skids all went to private school in Switzerland when she started working after the husband’s indictment. JC had a home in Bahamas for many years.
      Marie Chantal dogged Letizia on Twitter last year over that Easter mess with Sophia. I doubt their life will be easy because the discharge sided with JC.

      • BayTampaBay says:

        What “discharge”?

        More tea please and hold the sugar.

      • Züri says:

        @Michelle: interesting on Marie Chantal. Never heard anything about her dogging Letizia. Can you tell us more?

      • Mary says:

        @zuri, MC tweeted something that was later deleted. if I recall correctly, while it did not discuss the Easter episode specifically, it did talk about the importance of mothers and how someone’s true personality comes out in the end. Anybody else remember better?

      • notasugarhere says:

        She went after Letizia on social media, taking up for Sofia who was clearly using the girls for a photo op. MC has been jealous for years that Letizia has Felipe while she had to settle for her daddy buying her a dim former-royal as a husband. She’s also close friends with Cristina.

      • Michelle says:

        There was also a US Vanity Fair article on Christina’s situation that the Greek Royals were quoted heavily in Marie Chantal and Pavlos.

      • MaryContrary says:

        Ohhhh I remember that-she was super critical and bitchy about those photos of the granddaughter pulling away from her grandmother.

      • Juniper says:

        Oh the Greek “Royals” are insufferable. The fact that MC uses her titles is a joke.

    • notasugarhere says:

      He’s already renounced any inheritance now or in the future from his father, did it in March.

      • A says:

        Yes, as I noted, because of this investigation. And it’s pretty clear from what the girlf said that he and his family have probably profited from Juan Carlos’ shady money connections already. She said he paid for everything for his family in cash.

      • notasugarhere says:

        I’d say that’s a yoga-sized stretch to try to make Felipe look guilty. We wait and see what eventually turns up.

      • A says:

        Not really. Either his father, the king, didn’t tell him, the heir, about all the stuff he was involved in, and Felipe never bothered to ask what the deal was with the Saudis and whoever else, why there was so much cash in weird accounts, or he knew and kept quiet. Neither is a good look for a monarch, is it? Especially given that this is not the first financial scandal involving his immediate family. I would bet few people want to truly investigate the sitting king but this looks terrible for Felipe.

      • notasugarhere says:

        Again, waiting to see what really happened vs. hearsay. Eventually skeletons in this family come out with proof vs. speculation.

      • Rose says:

        It`s been proven that Felipe knew he was named to inherit the Saudi money long before the scandal broke (at least since March 2019). He even admits he knew – he was personally notified of his inheritance in offshore societies keeping this money. This is well-documented so not something under discussion. Only when the Telegraph got hold of the story did Felipe act and promised to renounce to the money.

        And all of this after numerous missteps and on top of the family´s previous corruption scandal that has Felipe´s brother-in-law in jail for tax fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling.

  4. Priscila says:

    The spanish friends I have do not care for the RF. As they had gotten rid of the monarchy before, and they only came back after Franco dictatorship, spanish are not brainwashed as the english are when it comes to the King. This is good, I think, because it forces the RF to be on its toes and provide good service. Juan Carlos and his daughter were bad, they were outed. Say what you will about Felipe and Letizia, but they are intelligent enough to understand they cannot pulling shit without repercutions. I can even see they not losing their minds in the eventuality they lose the CRown- which, while very hard, might happen one day- whereas I am pretty sure William( yes, William, because I think Charles will be KIng still- most possibly William too, but if it will fall, it will be on William) and Kate would became very, very depressed and lost, not because they bought into “Duty first” but because they feel it is owed to them and enjoy the priveleges way too much.

    • notasugarhere says:

      Letizia was photographed at an anti-monarchy event years before she met Felipe. I’d guess she has heavily mixed feelings about the role, even while she fell head over heels for him. When she first arrived, she insisted on the idea of it being a real job with working hours. Her haters twisted this into, ‘Letizia refuses to work weekends, she only wants to work M-F’

      • Priscila says:

        I like them as a couple and individually they seem to be level headed people. I can see she not being crazy about it. Seeing as a job might have helped her live with it. They could live without it- a hard adjustment- and I doubt we would see they crying. Nobody would keep on and on about the ” beauty of pageantry” and ” tradition”-

      • aang says:

        It seems reasonable to treat it like a job with a set schedule. If I had small children I wouldn’t want to work evenings or weekends either. I often feel that the wives of the monarchs or in Kate’s case future monarch should just say “What ribbon cutting is more important than raising the future King / Queen to be the best person they can be?” **My real opinion is abolish all monarchies and nationalize their property**

      • notasugarhere says:

        She turned him down three times before agreeing to the first date. I think she went into it with a full heart but level head.

  5. Queen Meghan's Hand says:

    Felipe and Letizia are so photogenic that they look like the actors cast in a movie about this mess.

  6. Devon says:

    I’m an American living in Spain and it’s really not in crisis

  7. Sarah says:

    Obviously the UK is in a totally different place with our monarchy but this has got me wondering what it would take if there was a big enough reason/shift in public sentiment. Just an idle daydream.

  8. Lisa says:

    JC is an absolute mess.

  9. TeamMeg says:

    Evidently, dethroned royalty doesn’t give up easy. Perhaps they really do believe in Divine Right of Kings, bloodlines and all that Illuminati BS.

  10. edenburning says:

    I mean unless Felipe actually benefited or benefits from his father’s shady nonsense, why should his father’s sins fall on him? (which is not to say whether any monarchy has any role in the modern era)

  11. MCV says:

    Felipe and Letizia knew all this please, they went on a 500k honey moon paid by JC, like…

  12. Jules says:

    It’s the former king, very misleading headline.

  13. Thirtynine says:

    I think Felipe and Letizia have really striven to completely disassociate themselves from even the appearance of benefiting from shady money, when they are aware. I mean, didn’t Letizia not even get her wedding ring because it had become tainted by association with Christina’s husband? Or something similar? I feel sure that any pro-Republican groups would be pushing misuse of funds and corruption against Felipe very loudly if they had hard evidence, and not just gossip. There has obviously been enough to convict his brother-in-law and force his father to abdicate and f lee the country. Felipe must be pretty clean, beca u se it seems there was a lot of money swirling around for the taking. While I don’t agree with with monarchy as a system, I do like Felipe and Letizia and the way they’ve handled themselves in their role.

    • notasugarhere says:

      Letizia distanced herself from Cristina and Inaki from the beginning. Was attacked for it in the press, with help from JC, Sofia, Christina themselves. Later horrible emails came out, from the Noos email system, that contained sexist and disgusting jokes Inaki and Cristina sent each other about Letizia.

      She did stop wearing her engagement ring at the start of the Noos scandal, because Felipe bought it secretly through Inaki to avoid press speculation. Their relationship was a complete secret until they announced their engagement.

  14. L4frimaire says:

    Is he going into exile alone? Some people couldn’t confirm if his wife went with him. Also, some questions of the money had some connection to his former mistress. Where exactly did he go? DR says he’s not there.

    • emu says:

      yes, where did he go?!

      • notasugarhere says:

        That is an open question. Is DR denying it? Is he in Switzerland even if Swiss investigators have agreed to cooperate with Spanish authorities?