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Former King of Spain announces plan to live in exile amid ongoing financial scandal

The former king announced his plans to go into exile on Monday, as the royal house continues to deal with the fallout from the former ruler's personal and financial life

Updated: August 3, 2020 - 5:30pm

The former King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, has made the decision to live in exile as he endures the fallout of a far reaching financial scandal.

The current King, Felipe VI, is Carlos's son. He assumed the title in 2014 when Juan Carlos abdicated the throne after a four-decade rule.

On Monday, the royal house said in a statement that Carlos, 82, made the decision to move away so that his son would be able to better "exercise his responsibilities" as monarch. 

"This is a very emotional decision, but one I take with great serenity. I have been king of Spain for almost 40 yers and throughout them all I have always wanted what is best for Spain and the crown," Carlos wrote.

Carlos has more recently been plagued by a series of emerging accusations involving several significant offshore bank accounts that connect to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a high-speed rail line between the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina. That a Spanish consortium was awarded a contract worth billions of dollars to construct the rail line that is now something the Spanish Supreme Court is investigating.

In March, King Felipe VI stripped his father of his annual royal stipend and gave up the personal inheritance he was set to receive from his father, which would have included millions of dollars from the offshore Saudi-connected accounts. 

Carlos's scandal-ridden history, which also includes high-profile mistresses who were allegedly also sent money from Saudi-tied offshore accounts, had become a significant distraction and embarrassment for his son and the Spanish monarchy in recent months. 

Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister of Spain, recently called the developments in Carlos's financial history "disturbing."

In the statement from the royal house, which took the form of a letter from the former monarch, Carlos wrote that his decision to move away stems from the "public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are causing."

Monday's statement did not disclose where the retired monarch would take up residence. 

Following the death of Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975, Carlos worked to restore democracy to Spain. He also overcame an attempted military coup in 1981.