Expert says Spain's former king is in Abu Dhabi with lover of 40 years

Spain’s scandal-hit former King Juan Carlos, 82, is staying with his lover of 40 years in luxury Abu Dhabi hotel after fleeing Spain with just two suitcases of ‘essentials’, royal expert claims

  • Author Pilar Eyre says he has not shared a bedroom with wife Sofia since 1976
  • She claimed the former king is with his lover at a £10,000-a-night hotel suite
  • Juan Carlos announced his shock decision to quit Spain earlier this month

Spain’s scandal-hit former king has fled to Abu Dhabi with his long-time lover, a royal expert has claimed.   

The controversial Juan Carlos, 82, is believed to be with his ‘most faithful friend for the past 40 years’ in a £10,000-a-night presidential suite in Abu Dhabi. 

Royal expert and author Pilar Eyre says the ex-king and his wife Sofia have not shared a bedroom since she caught him with another woman on a 1976 hunting trip.

The lothario’s female companion has given up a summer cruise to join him in his Middle East hideaway following his shock decision to quit Spain earlier this month, Eyre claimed. 

She wrote in glossy Spanish magazine Lecturas: ‘The king is not alone.

‘His faithful friend for the past 40 years is with him, the person who forgives everything, never fails him, accompanies him, comforts him.’

The former Spanish king has allegedly had an astonishing 5,000 lovers in his lifetime according to Spanish historian Amadeo Martinez Ingles. He is pictured above with his wife Sofia in 2007

She added: ‘They have experienced a wonderful love affair and face their future together hand in hand.

‘Juan Carlos, who has been so courageous on other occasions, should show himself publicly with her. He owes it to her, and also to us.’

The mistress of the former king, who according to Spanish historian Amadeo Martinez Ingles has had an astonishing 5,000 lovers in his lifetime, was not named.

Royal expert and author Pilar Eyre says the ex-king and his wife Sofia have not shared a bedroom since she caught him with another woman on a 1976 hunting trip

Pilar Eyre also claimed in her article that Juan Carlos had left Spain with just two suitcases containing only the ‘essentials.’ 

But one Spanish news website today said she ‘could be’ Marta Gaya, a Majorcan-born interior designer who has been dubbed the ‘love of his life’ in the past in their homeland.

Pilar Eyre’s lover claims will add to the controversy surrounding the former king’s departure from Spain amid an ongoing corruption scandal.

On Sunday protestors in Madrid called for an end to the Spanish monarchy, the same day a poll by SigmaDos found more than 63 per cent of those questioned felt it was a bad idea for Juan Carlos to have left the country.

His whereabouts following his August 3 exit, announced in a letter to his son Felipe VI made public after he left, sparked a guessing game which placed him in Portugal and the Dominican Republic before it emerged he was in Abu Dhabi.

The runaway former king, who abdicated in favour of Felipe VI in 2014, was pictured getting off a private jet before bunkering down in a £10,000 suite at the seven-star Emirates Palace.

Right-wing Spanish newspaper ABC had previously claimed Juan Carlos took a private plane from Vigo near Spain’s north-west border with Portugal on Monday with at least five other passengers including four bodyguards.

And in a detailed summary of the seven hour 13 minute flight covering the 3,751 miles between the Galician coastal city and Abu Dhabi, ABC identified the jet as a £45million Global 6500, registration number 9H-VBIG, hired from the Maltese branch of airline TAG Aviation. 

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos (left) was banished from the country by his son (right) – the reigning King Felipe VI – amid the latter’s corruption scandal, sources claim

It also claimed the flight path was ‘altered’ as part of a ‘legal’ practice adopted by footballers and other celebrities and wealthy businessmen to disguise the identity of the person on the plane, saying it marked Paris-Abu Dhabi but overnighted in Vigo on Sunday before leaving for the Middle East.

Naming the airport it touched down at as Al Bateen Executive Airport, the first dedicated private jet airport in the Middle East and North Africa regions, it said Juan Carlos made the final part of his long journey to the government-owned Emirates Palace Hotel by helicopter.

Juan Carlos, in his letter to Spain’s current king announcing his decision to leave his homeland, wrote ‘Guided by my conviction I can offer the best service to Spaniards, its institutions and to you as King, I am communicating my decision to move away from Spain.

‘It’s a decision I am taking with deep feeling but with great serenity.

‘I have been King of Spain for almost 40 years and during that whole time, I’ve always wanted the best for Spain and for the Crown.’

He signed off the letter: ‘With affection as always, your father.’

It later emerged he had already left Spain by the time the letter was released by the Royal Household.

Juan Carlos is stayiing in a £10,000-a-night presidential suite in the Emirates Palace Hotel (air view pictured) in Abu Dhabi, Spanish daily ABC reported

Pictured left to right: Then-Princess Letizia , Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos pose for a photo in 2009

His departure sparked mixed reactions, with monarchists and right-wing politicians accusing the government of forcing him into exile.

Critics of the former king accused him of an amateur attempt to protect himself and his son from the corruption scandals threatening the future of Spain’s dwindling royal family.

Pablo Iglesias, the left-wing leader of Sanchez’s government coalition partner Podemos, has branded the former king’s ‘flight abroad’ as ‘unworthy of a former head of state’ and claimed it left the country’s Royal Family in a ‘very compromised position.’

Juan Carlos’s lawyers insist he remains ‘at the disposition’ of Spain’s judicial system.

His departure from Spain comes after Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into bank accounts allegedly held by Juan Carlos in tax havens.

Spain has launched its own investigation based in part on information shared by Switzerland about cash the former king allegedly received as part of his involvement in a high-speed Saudi Arabia rail contract.

The Spanish Royal Household has so far declined to comment on Juan Carlos’s whereabouts.

The £3bn seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel opened its doors for the first time in November 2005.

It is set in 1,000 hectares of landscaped parkland with 100 water fountains and 8.000 trees. It has a near-mile-long private beach, a four mile jogging track, two swimming pools and underground parking for 2,500 cars.

The hotel has a total floor space of 850,000 square metres, putting Buckingham Palace’s 77,000 square metres in the shade.

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton have been among the heads of state to grace it along with musicians and film stars such as Sir Elton John, Will Smith and Justin Timberlake.

The hotel has 302 grand rooms and 92 suites. ABC appears to be claiming Juan Carlos is staying on the highest floor of the hotel, in one of the six suites said to be out of bounds to all expect members of UAE royal families.

It said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, had made the hotel ‘paparazzi-proof’ with more private security following Juan Carlos’s arrival.

Eyre’s article also claimed he was due to have a minor operation at a hospital in Abu Dhabi to correct an operation in Spain which had not had ‘the desired effects.’

Who is Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos I?

Juan Carlos I reigned as king of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014

Juan Carlos I reigned as king of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014. 

He was a popular monarch for most of his four-decade reign who played a critical role in the country’s transition to democracy. 

He is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent declaration of the Second Spanish Republic. 

Juan Carlos was born in Rome, Italy, on January 5, 1938, during his family’s exile. He came to Spain in 1947 to continue his studies and entered the Zaragoza military academy. 

He completed his tertiary education at the University of Madrid and went on to marry Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark in Athens in 1962. 

They went on to have two daughters and a son together: Elena, Cristina, and Felipe.  

Juan Carlos first began periodically acting as Spain’s head of state in the summer of 1974. Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in November the following year and Juan Carlos became king on 22 November 1975, two days after Franco’s death.

Juan Carlos was hailed for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy and reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime. 

However the King and the monarchy’s reputation began to suffer after controversies surrounding his family arose. 

In April 2012, Juan Carlos faced criticism for an elephant-hunting trip in Botswana during a time of financial crisis in Spain. 

The public found out about the trip only after the King injured himself and a special aircraft was sent to bring him home.

Spanish officials stated that the expenses of the trip were not paid by taxpayers or by the palace, but by businessman Mohamed Eyad Kayali.

Corruption scandals circling the royal family closed in when his daughter, Princess Cristina, was accused of tax fraud in 2014 and became the first Spanish royal to stand trial. She was later acquitted, but her husband was sentenced. 

He abdicated in favour of his son, Prince Felipe, in 2014, and last year, Juan Carlos announced his decision to withdraw from public life, ending his remaining institutional functions and appearances from June 2019. Last August, he successfully underwent heart surgery in Madrid.  

In June 2020, Spain’s supreme court prosecutor opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was granted to a group of Spanish companies in 2011.

King Felipe renounced his own inheritance and stripped his father of his palace allowance in March after reports the latter received $100 million from the late Saudi king and gave millions to a businesswoman.  

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