Juan Carlos's decision to go into exile comes after Spain's Supreme Court opened an investigation into his alleged role in a scandal over a multi-billion-dollar contract with Saudi Arabia.

Former Spanish King Juan Carlos attends a bullfighting at the bullring in Aranjuez, Spain on June 2, 2019
Former Spanish King Juan Carlos attends a bullfighting at the bullring in Aranjuez, Spain on June 2, 2019 (Reuters)

Former king Juan Carlos, who is facing investigation at home and abroad for corruption, has decided to leave Spain. 

“I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain,” he said on Monday in a letter to his son, King Felipe VI.

He said he wanted to ensure he doesn’t make his son’s role difficult, adding that “my legacy, and my own dignity, demand that it should be so.” 

'Disturbing'

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez recently said he found the developments about Juan Carlos – including investigations in Spain and Switzerland – “disturbing.”

In June, the Spanish Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia.

In March, the Swiss daily Tribune de Geneve alleged that in 2008 he had received 100 million dollars from Saudi king Abdallah via an offshore account.

Through his lawyer, Juan Carlos, 82, has declined to comment on the allegations.

READ MORE: The Saudis, King Juan Carlos I and a shady railroad deal 

Popular figure

Juan Carlos ascended the throne in 1975 on the death of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco and ruled for 38 years before abdicating in favour of his son Felipe VI in June 2014.

He was a popular figure for decades, playing a key role in the democratic transition from the Franco dictatorship which ruled Spain from 1939-1975.

But marred by scandals in the later years of his reign, Juan Carlos in 2014 abdicated in favour of his son Felipe VI, losing the immunity from prosecution Spain’s Constitution grants to the head of state.

After media reports claimed Felipe was a beneficiary of an offshore account holding an alleged $76 million from Saudi Arabia to Juan Carlos, Felipe renounced any future personal inheritance he might receive from the former king.

Felipe also stripped his father of his annual stipend of $228,000.

The royal house has denied that Felipe had any knowledge of his father’s alleged financial irregularities.

The royal website said in a statement that Felipe respected his father’s decision.

READ MORE: Spanish separatist lawmakers blast 'anachronistic' monarchy

Source: TRTWorld and agencies