Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I reportedly wants to return from his self-imposed exile regardless of the damage it may cause to the reputation of the monarchy.

King Juan Carlos, who abdicated his throne in favour of his son King Felipe VI in 2014, exiled himself to the UAE in August 2020 following the explosion of corruption allegations against him. In a statement at the time, the royal explained that he has made the decision "in the face of the public repercussions that certain past events" in his private life are generating and in the hope of allowing his son to exercise his responsibilities as a king with "tranquillity."

However, the royal has apparently changed his mind now and is reportedly making plans to return to his homeland. The former monarch, who celebrated his 84th birthday on Wednesday, reportedly hopes to spend his final years in his country.

Pablo Simon, a professor of political science at Carlos III University in Madrid, said that the royal no longer cares whether his actions damage his son and his family. Simon told The Times that Juan Carlos believes he has contributed enough to his country by playing an instrumental role in re-establishing democracy after the death of General Franco in 1975.

"He's indifferent to the possible damage he's doing to the monarchy because he believes he's done his part. Knowing that he's only got a few years of life left, he simply doesn't care," the professor said.

His statement comes days after reports claimed that King Juan Carlos had demanded to move back to Zarzuela Palace, the royal family's residence in Madrid. The request came despite a readers' poll by Spanish publication 20 Minutos that said only 35 percent of voters were in favour of his return to the country, while 42 percent believed he should continue to stay in exile.

According to Professor Simon, the only way the royal could rebuild his reputation is if he explains his behaviour on a televised programme, however, that could leave him liable for other legal proceedings. He is already facing three separate criminal probes in Spain. Though he cannot be persecuted as he has immunity as the former king of Spain, he will have to answer questions from prosecutors as he is still accountable to the Supreme Court.

King Juan Carlos !
King Juan Carlos I Photo: POOL via AFP / DANIEL OCHOA DE OLZA