Former Spanish King Juan Carlos has denied the rumours that he is leaving self-exile in the UAE and returning to his homeland as he is "seriously ill."

Months after a picture of Juan Carlos looking frail went viral, rumours started circulating that the former monarch is not keeping well. Pilar Eyre, regarded as a leading expert on the Spanish royal family, also added to the speculations with a tweet she posted on Monday. She claimed that the 83-year-old royal "is in a serious condition and the Royal Household is considering the possibility of transferring him to Spain."

However, the royal household quickly refuted the concerns regarding the health of the scandal-hit royal, who went into self-exile in the UAE last year to help his son King Felipe VI "exercise his responsibilities."

Hola! magazine carried a statement from Juan Carlos that read: "I'm perfect. I do two hours gym every day and I feel fine."

The rumours have been on a rise since the aforementioned photograph of the King Emeritus was published by Spanish TV station Telecinco last year. The photo, said to have been taken by Spanish tourists, showed the octogenarian walking at a pleasure port in Abu Dhabi with the help of two bodyguards.

It was his first photograph since he arrived in the Middle East in August last year after Swiss prosecutors opened a probe into accounts he allegedly held in tax havens. The disgraced king, who abdicated the throne in favour of his son King Felipe in 2014, is facing three separate criminal probes in Spain.

He and his German former mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein are also being interrogated in connection to audio recordings of a meeting between the latter and retired Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo at her London home in 2015. In the audio, Sayn-Wittgenstein can be heard claiming that the former king received a secret commission for helping win a £5.5 billion Saudi rail deal.

It was rumoured that Juan Carlos would be returning to Madrid for Christmas but he ruled it out citing the coronavirus pandemic and that he was in the high-risk group at the age of 83.

Spain's former King Juan Carlos
Spain's former king Juan Carlos (C) Photo: AFP / Karim SAHIB