How Spain’s ex-king’s fell from grace

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos left his country, dogged by allegations of bribery and corruption swirling around a Saudi rail contract.

It was a bombshell move and dramatic exit by the ex-monarch, who has gone from Spain's savior to a pariah in exile.

Juan Carlos was popular for most of his four-decade reign and seemed set for a grand role in the history books.

He led Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy, after the death of Francisco Franco in 1975.

But this latest case is one in a long line of scandals that tainted his image in later years and cast a shadow over the entire royal household.

In 2012, details emerged of a lavish hunting trip in Botswana.

It was bad timing at the height of a financial crisis, which saw huge spending cuts and widespread unemployment in Spain.

In 2014, corruption scandals circling the royals closed in.

His daughter was accused of tax fraud and became the first Spanish royal to stand trial.

She was later acquitted, but her husband was sentenced.

In a bid to save the scandal-hit monarchy, Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, handing the crown to his son, Prince Felipe.

Last year, the former king withdrew from public life - undergoing heart surgery in August.

But he didn’t stay out of the spotlight for long.

In June, Swiss and Spanish prosecutors began investigating the high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, which was granted to a group of Spanish companies in 2011.

The deal was reportedly worth 6.7 billion euros and would link Medina with Mecca.

Spanish media says Juan Carlos received $100 million from the late Saudi king and gave millions to a businesswoman and former mistress.

King Felipe gave up his own inheritance and stripped his father of his palace allowance in March.

Juan Carlos is not formally under investigation - so is not technically a fugitive.

The ex-king has repeatedly declined to comment on the corruption claims.

Video Transcript

- Spain's former King Juan Carlos left his country, dogged by allegations of bribery and corruption swirling around a Saudi rail contract. It was a bombshell move and dramatic exit by the ex-monarch who has gone from Spain's savior to a pariah in exile.

Juan Carlos was popular for most of his four-decade reign and seemed set for a grand role in the history books. He led Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy after the death of Francisco Franco in 1975. But this latest case is one in a long line of scandals that tainted his image in later years and cast a shadow over the entire royal household.

In 2012, details emerged of a lavish hunting trip in Botswana. It was bad timing at the height of a financial crisis, which saw huge spending cuts and widespread unemployment in Spain. In 2014, corruption scandals circling the royals closed in. His daughter was accused of tax fraud and became the first Spanish royal to stand trial. She was later acquitted, but her husband was sentenced.

In a bid to save the scandal-hit monarchy, Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, handing the crown to his son prince Felipe. Last year, the former King withdrew from public life, undergoing heart surgery in August. But he didn't stay out of the spotlight for long.

In June, Swiss and Spanish prosecutors began investigating the high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, which was granted to a group of Spanish companies in 2011. The deal was reportedly worth 6.7 billion euros and would link Medina with Mecca. Spanish media says Juan Carlos received $100 million from the late Saudi King and gave millions to a businesswoman and former mistress. King Felipe gave up his own inheritance and stripped his father of his palace allowance in March. Juan Carlos is not formally under investigation so is not technically a fugitive. The ex-king has repeatedly declined to comment on the corruption claims.