The former king of Spain, Juan Carlos I, is leaving the country, he announced in a letter to his son, the current king, on Monday. He is being investigated for possible financial improprieties.
“A year ago, I expressed my will and desire to stop performing institutional activities. Now, guided by the conviction to perform the best service to the Spanish people, their institutions and you as King, I am communicating my thoughtful decision to move, at this time, outside of Spain,” Carlos wrote to his successor King Felipe VI.
“A decision I make with sadness, but with great serenity. I have been King of Spain for almost forty years and, during all of them, I have always wanted the best for Spain and for the Crown.”
The move comes as Spanish and Swiss authorities are investigating the former monarch’s finances. Spain’s supreme court this year opened an investigation into Carlos’ personal Swiss bank account, in which he allegedly hid $100 million given to him by the then-king of Saudi Arabia in 2008.
Carlos’ self-exile marks a stark fall from grace for the man who many credit with ushering Spain into democracy from dictatorship. He led the country for 39 years, from 1975 until 2014, when he abdicated his throne in favor of King Felipe amid reports that he had engaged in tax evasion, extramarital affairs and elephant hunting.