Spain’s former King Juan Carlos seen struggling to walk in rare glimpse of disgraced royal

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The photo, said to have been taken by Spanish tourists and published by Spanish TV station Telecinco, is bound to fuel new concerns about his state of health. It is the first to emerge of Juan Carlos since he was pictured arriving in Abu Dhabi at the start of August following a shock departure from Spain after Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into bank accounts he allegedly held in tax havens.

He checked into a £10,000-a-night presidential suite at the seven-star Emirates Palace following his arrival.

The possibility he would return to Madrid for Christmas had polarised the political debate in Spain over the last few weeks before it was ruled out by Juan Carlos himself.

He attributed his decision to the coronavirus pandemic and the fact he was a high-risk person because of his age.

Reports at the time, refused by Spain’s Royal Household, said he had been admitted to a private clinic in Abu Dhabi after testing positive for coronavirus.

Juan Carlos is facing three separate criminal probes in Spain.

One is related to the use of credit cards linked to foreign accounts after his June 2014 abdication when he lost his constitutional protection against prosecution as a serving monarch.

Prosecutors are trying to establish if the scandal-hit former king accessed funds deposited in accounts held by a Mexican businessman and a Spanish Air Force official.

Spain has also launched its own investigation based in part on information shared by Switzerland about cash Juan Carlos allegedly received as part of his involvement in a high-speed Saudi Arabia rail contract.

Last month the ex-monarch’s lawyer announced he had paid more than £600,000 in back taxes with interest and surcharges for the years since his abdication.

Spanish authorities responded by saying they were analysing the tax payments to see if they were “spontaneous, truthful and complete”.

Juan Carlos’s shock departure from Spain at the start of August led to an intense questioning of the country’s monarchy led by its left-wing vice-president Pablo Iglesias.

Several interviews by the former king’s ex-mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, now living in the UK, have not helped.

She was implicated in the scandal surrounding Juan Carlos’ rule after it emerged he had given her a gift of €65million.

The 56-year-old blonde has claimed he gave her the cash gift because he was “adamant about taking care of her”.

She also insisted in a TV interview last year Juan Carlos was the “architect of his own problems” and described his Middle East exile as the “ultimate defeat”.

Spain’s current king, Juan Carlos’s son Felipe VI, made a veiled dig at his exiled father and the scandals surrounding his family in his Christmas speech.

He said in a televised address “ethics are above family ties”.

The new photo of Juan Carlos was taken on December 29 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, home to the Yas Marina Circuit which is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Juan Carlos, in his letter to Spain’s current king Felipe VI announcing his decision to leave his homeland, wrote “Guided by my conviction I can offer the best service to Spaniards, its institutions and to you as King, I am communicating my decision to move away from Spain.

“It’s a decision I am taking with deep feeling but with great serenity. I have been King of Spain for almost 40 years and during that whole time, I’ve always wanted the best for Spain and for the Crown.”

He signed off the letter: “With affection as always, your father.”

It later emerged he had already left Spain by the time the letter was released by the Royal Household.

His departure sparked mixed reactions, with monarchists and right-wing politicians accusing the government of forcing him into exile and critics of the former king accusing him of an amateur attempt to protect himself and his son from the corruption scandals threatening the future of Spain’s dwindling royal family.

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