The disgraced former king of Spain, Juan Carlos, has returned to his homeland for the first time in almost two years, touching down by private jet at Vigo-Peinador airport in the country's north-west on Thursday evening.
Footage of the 84-year-old former monarch showed him slowly descending the stairs, before walking a few steps to a waiting car. His daughter Elena was the only member of the royal family present to greet him.
The Bourbon, who has been living in exile in Abu Dhabi since 2020, is due to stay in Spain until Monday, mainly in the port city of Sanxenxo in Galicia where he plans to attend an international regatta, according to the royal family.
However, the former king is also due to meet with his son, King Felipe VI, as well as with his own wife Sofía and the rest of his family at the Zarzuela Palace near Madrid on Monday before returning the same day to Abu Dhabi, where he has "settled permanently," a palace statement said.
The king is seen as anxious to prevent further damage to the royal family by being seen as too close to Juan Carlos. By visiting Madrid only on the last day, an overnight stay in the Zarzuela Palace was also avoided.
After four decades on the Spanish throne, Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of his son in 2014 following a series of financial scandals for which he only avoided prosecution due initially to his immunity as the monarch, and then later due to the statute of limitations expiring.
Juan Carlos left Spain on August 4, 2020 for an undisclosed destination, later turning up in Abu Dhabi. At the beginning of March, after the probes into his finances were ended, the former king announced he would remain in exile for the foreseeable future.
According to a recent survey, a slight majority of Spaniards (53%) now believe the monarchy is out of date and should be abolished.