The former king Juan Carlos who has found himself in the middle of a corruption scandal abruptly announced his decision to leave the country on Monday but there has been no official confirmation of where he went.

A person holds a flag of the Second Spanish Republic during a protest against Spain's monarchy for the first time since former Spanish King Juan Carlos left the country amid an investigation into his involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, in Madrid, Spain August 9, 2020.
A person holds a flag of the Second Spanish Republic during a protest against Spain's monarchy for the first time since former Spanish King Juan Carlos left the country amid an investigation into his involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, in Madrid, Spain August 9, 2020. (Reuters)

Protesters have called for an end to the Spanish monarchy after the sudden departure of the former king Juan Carlos from the country this week amid a corruption scandal.

Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 in favour of his son Felipe, abruptly announced his decision to leave on Monday but there has been no official confirmation of where he went, setting off an international guessing game.

READ MORE: Former king Juan Carlos leaves Spain amid financial scandal 

"We have to clean up the system of corruption and we should start with the crown," said Jose Emilio Martin, a bus driver, who was among about a hundred protesters in Madrid on Sunday.

A protester destroys pictures of the royal family during a march against Spain's monarchy in Madrid, Spain August 9, 2020.
A protester destroys pictures of the royal family during a march against Spain's monarchy in Madrid, Spain August 9, 2020. (Reuters)

Protests against the royal family have spread across Spain since the ex-monarch's dramatic exit, with about 100 republicans demonstrating in Valencia on Sunday and more protests planned in Mallorca this week during King Felipe VI's visit to the island.

Sinking popularity

A poll by SigmaDos published on Sunday in the conservative newspaper El Mundo found 63.3 percent of those questioned felt it was a bad idea for the 82-year-old ex-monarch to have left, while 27.2 percent agreed with his departure.

Demonstrators march during a protest against Spanish Monarchy in Madrid, Spain.
Demonstrators march during a protest against Spanish Monarchy in Madrid, Spain. (AP)

Some 80.3 percent said they thought Juan Carlos should face any potential legal proceedings. The poll, carried out between August 4-6 after he left, found 12.4 percent said he had nothing to answer for and 7.3 percent did not voice an opinion.

Despite the disapproval, reflecting Juan Carlos' sinking popularity in recent years, some 69.2 percent of those questioned in Sunday's poll said he played an important role in the transition from dictatorship to democracy after the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, while 24.4 percent said he played "little or no" role.

In June, Spain's Supreme Court opened a preliminary investigation into Juan Carlos' involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, after Switzerland's La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported he had received $100 million from the late Saudi king. Switzerland has also opened an investigation.

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

The former monarch is not formally under investigation and has repeatedly declined to comment on the allegations.

Juan Carlos's lawyer said on Monday his client was at the Spanish prosecutor's disposal despite his decision to leave.

Protesters hold a banner reading
Protesters hold a banner reading "Borbon to prision by popular republic" during a protest against Spain's monarchy in Madrid, Spain August 9, 2020. (Reuters)

Where is Juan Carlos? 

The pro-monarchist newspaper ABC reported on Friday that Juan Carlos had travelled by private plane from Spain to the United Arab Emirates on Monday.

Other media have said he is in the Dominican Republic or in Portugal. Officials there have said they have no knowledge of him arriving.

A Spanish government spokeswoman declined on Sunday to comment on his whereabouts. His lawyer and the royal palace have all this week declined to say where Juan Carlos is.

News website Niusdiario.es posted a photograph on Saturday that it said showed him walking down the steps of a plane at an airport in Abu Dhabi. If confirmed, it would be the first image published of the ex-king since his departure.

United Arab Emirates officials and the Emirates Palace Hotel did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Source: Reuters