Palma.— The Spanish government confirmed yesterday that the Palma-based royal yacht Fortuna, which is no longer wanted by King Juan Carlos, will be returned to the Balearic business group that donated it to the monarch.

Third royal yacht
Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said yesterday that the government had agreed to return the 41-metre (135-ft) Fortuna donated by Balearic foundation for Tourism and Culture in 2000 and that it would be up to the foundation to decide the vessel's future.

The Foundation had the new royal yacht built in 2000 at a cost of 3'000 million pesetas, the equivalent of 18 million euros today, and she was the third to have carried the name Fortuna, because of the priceless promotion having the royal family spend their annual Summer and Easter holidays, often with high profile international guests, on the island of Majorca.

Belt-tightening move
But, the foundation asked for the vessel back after the royal palace in May asked the government to take it off the king's hands.
The king's decision was seen as belt-tightening measure as Spain braves a severe economic crisis - the last time the king used the Fortuna was in August 2011 and she costs over 20'000 euros to fuel.

The announcement also came as the monarchy's popularity plunged to an all-time low following scandals that have tarnished the family's image, in particular the corruption case currently being investigated in Palma at the centre of which is his son-in-law the Duke of Palma
The government also said yesterday that what the Foundation decided to do with the royal yacht is none of their business.
Balearics MPs recently unanimously backed a proposal for the yacht to be sold and the proceeds used to help the needy and socially marginalised in the Balearics.

And according to recent reports, yacht brokers have already been approached although leading sources in the luxury charter yacht industry claim that she is slightly too small for the top end of the market.


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