King emeritus Juan Carlos has returned to Spain after almost two years. / AGENCY

King emeritus Juan Carlos returns to Spain for a sailing regatta

The former monarch has been living in self-exile in Abu Dhabi for almost two years and will meet his son King Felipe in Madrid before going back there


The king emeritus, Juan Carlos, has returned to Spain this weekend for the first time in almost two years. It follows legal investigations into his financial affairs being dropped; the controversy around them had forced him to go into self-exile in Abu Dhabi.

The former monarch is expected to appear at the Sanxenxo nautical club this Friday morning to give an "extended greeting" in front of the media, though it's not expected that he will be answering questions.

Although relations with his son, King Felipe, have reportedly been strained in the meantime, King Juan Carlos has had visits from his two other children - Infantas Cristina and Elena - and their families in his time in the Middle East.

Now that the air has cleared a little in Spain, he has returned to take part in a sailing regatta in the Galician town of Sanxenxo, northwestern Spain, at which he has been a regular participant in the past. He is staying with friends in that area.

The king flew into Vigo airport in the region yesterday evening in a private jet, whose route from Abu Dhabi had been eagerly followed online by waiting media. Conservative estimates in the press were that the private jet had cost 56,000 euros to charter for whoever had paid the bill.

In a communiqué from the Royal household on Wednesday, it was announced that the former monarch - who abdicated in favour of his son in 2014 - will meet privately at the Royal family's Zarzuela palace in Madrid on Monday with King Felipe and also with Juan Carlos' wife, Queen Sofia, who has reportedly not seem him for the past two years either.

Juan Carlos will then return to Abu Dhabi the same day, although he has stated that he hopes to return more often to Spain to spend time with friends and family. The government and King Felipe have agreed that Juan Carlos should not stay in publicly funded royal residences on these trips.