Juan Carlos is not the first Spanish king to hit the road
Juan Carlos I, emeritus king of Spain, has recently left the country in the midst of a financial scandal. He is reportedly staying in the United Arab Emirates. It sounds astonishing, a king fleeing his land, but actually he is not the first of his dynasty to ride off like that.
The history of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty is a tumultuous tale. Kings and queens have continuously been in the Hot Seat because of invasions, bloody wars with competing families for the throne, and popular uprisings that ended up in a Republic.
The custom of Bourbons leaving the country began with Carlos IV. This king was known for his lack of commanding authority. He reigned under the influence of the French Revolution of 1789 and was finally sent into exile by Napoleon when the French troops took over Spain. The reaction of the Bourbons to the French invasion was actually quite embarrassing. They meekly marched into exile and left their country in foreign hands. Carlos IV died in Rome in 1819.
Fernando VII accompanied his father Carlos into exile. When he returned to Spain years later, the crowd yelled sarcastically: "Long live the chains!" Fernando VII had to give his reign a liberal tone to prevent the people from throwing him out again. The subject of controversy, Fernando was either known as 'The Beloved' or 'The Royal Felon.' Some historians say he was the worst monarch Spain has ever had.
Isabella II had to go into exile because of the liberal, 'Glorious' revolution of 1868. It could have been worse though. In 1852 an eccentric liberal activist, who had fought a guerrilla against the French and was now a priest, tried to kill the queen by sticking a stiletto into her as she sat in church.
After its revolution, Spain made Amadeo I king for a couple of years. In 1873-1874, its First Republic arrived. While the pious Isabella II would die in Parisian exile in 1902, her son Alfonso XII returned to Spain to give the monarchy another go.
Alfonso XIII did not manage to gain the trust of the people. First, he supported a dictatorship, and then he witnessed the coming of a Second Republic in Spain. He was dismissed from the country, once again.
The Second Republic, led by republicans and socialists between 1931 and 1939, had no place for a king. With the subsequent Franco uprising and the Spanish Civil War, Alfonso XIII saw no chance of coming back. He died in Rome in 1941.
Image: De Noulas - Wikimedia Commons
Juan of Bourbon lived his whole life without becoming king. He tried to mount the throne but ended up in the Portuguese town of Estoril, where he conspired to convince the dictator Franco to let him be a monarch. It was all in vain. Then, at the beginning of an important transition in Spanish rule, Franco chose the young Juan Carlos to succeed him as Head of State in 1975.
That was the time Juan Carlos I became King of Spain. He was the perfect monarch who restored freedom for the Spanish people after Franco passed away. Spain bloomed economically and democratically. However, over the years, Juan Carlos dropped the ball a number of times. Several scandals with women and money, as well as suspicions of corruption, made him very unpopular.
It remains to be seen whether the son of Juan Carlos, Philip VI, will remain on the throne. Republicans in Spanish society are calling more loudly than ever for a referendum on the monarchy. How many people will vote him out of his job? No one knows for sure.