Most Spaniards Believe Former King Juan Carlos Should Not Have Left, Reveals Opinion Poll

Former King Juan Carlos abruptly announced his decision to leave Spain on Monday, August 3 amid a financial scandal

Nearly two-thirds of Spaniards think that their former King Juan Carlos, who left Spain this week amid a financial scandal, should not have gone abroad, revealed an opinion poll which was published on Sunday, August 9.

Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 in favor of his son Felipe, abruptly announced his decision to leave the country on Monday, August 3. But there has been no official confirmation of where he went that triggered an international guessing game.

Opinion Poll

Juan Carlos
Former King of Spain Juan Carlos Wikimedia commons

The poll by SigmaDos for 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.

Some 80.3 percent said they thought Juan Carlos should face any potential legal proceedings. The poll, carried out between Aug. 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.

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.

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.

Role in Transition

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.

The pro-monarchist newspaper ABC reported on Friday that Juan Carlos had traveled 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 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.

The blurred shot appears to show Juan Carlos wearing a white face mask and talking to an official, but there were no signs or other details in the frame to confirm the location or date. gave no details on who took the picture. United Arab Emirates officials and the Emirates Palace Hotel did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.