Only ten days ago, British historian and specialist in contemporary modern history, Paul Preston, told the Bulletin that what the former king, Juan Carlos, did after the Civil War as head of the country’s transition from a dictatorship to a democracy was “amazing”, sadly Juan Carlos is now caught up in a major fraud scandal.
So much so, King Felipe VI has moved to distance himself from his scandal-hit father by stripping the senior royal of his allowance and renouncing an inheritance from the former monarch. The Spanish royal household made the announcement after media reports named Felipe as a beneficiary of an offshore fund set up by his father, Juan Carlos, in 2008.
The controversy will damage efforts by King Felipe, 52, to re-establish the credibility of the monarchy which faced calls for its abolition towards the end of his father’s reign. Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 after a series of scandals which plunged the popularity of the royal family to its lowest since the restoration of the monarchy in 1975. Despite leaving the throne, Juan Carlos, 82, still receives an annual stipend of 194,000 euros.
As Preston pointed out, at its heart Spain is a republican country but the public at large loved Juan Carlos because of how he handled the transition. Now, however, the new royals are having a battle to maintain public support and this latest bombshell is not going to help.