Juan Carlos, Spain’s disgraced ex-king, confirmed to be in UAE

Guessing game at an end as to whereabouts of elusive 82-year-old former monarch

Spain's royal household has confirmed that disgraced former king Juan Carlos is in the United Arab Emirates, two weeks after it was announced that he was leaving the country in an attempt to protect the crown from mounting scrutiny of his financial dealings.

The announcement set off an international guessing game, with Portugal and the Dominican Republic suggested as potential destinations for the 82-year-old.

Days later came a clue. A photograph published by the NIUS media group showed a man resembling Juan Carlos descending from a plane wearing a face mask.

The ABC newspaper filled in the details, reporting that he had flown in a private plane to Abu Dhabi and was staying at the government-owned Emirates Palace hotel where a suite can cost as much as €11,000 a night.

A spokesperson for Spain’s royal household said on Monday that the former king had “indicated to the royal household to communicate that on 3rd August he travelled to the United Arab Emirates and that is where he remains at present”.

The household declined to specify whether he was in Abu Dhabi or to answer questions about how long he intends to stay in the UAE.

A cloud of allegations has swirled around Juan Carlos in recent years, undermining the monarchy's fragile grip on power and denting the popularity of a leader who played a pivotal role in restoring democracy to Spain after the death of Gen Francisco Franco in 1975.

Stripped of annual stipend

Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, two years after it emerged that he had jetted off on an elephant-hunting trip to Botswana as Spain grappled with the devastation wrought by the 2008 financial crisis.

King Felipe stripped his father of his annual stipend in March and renounced his personal inheritance after reports that he was in line to receive millions of euros from a secret offshore fund with ties to Saudi Arabia.

Spain’s supreme court launched an investigation three months later into the former king’s role in a deal in which a Spanish consortium won a €6.7 billion contract to build a high-speed rail line between the Saudi cities of Medina and Mecca.

As pressure grew to take action to protect the monarchy’s reputation, Spain’s royal household published a letter Juan Carlos sent to Felipe, in which he said he would “move, at this time, outside Spain” given the “public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating”. – Guardian