He was born into exile in Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy. And he faces the decline of his life fleeing from the Spanish justice. The king emeritus, Juan Carlos I (Rome, 1938), is the son and grandson of Bourbons who lived outside of Spain. His grandfather, Alfonso XIII, left Spain while the Second Republic was proclaimed, in April 1931, after having sponsored, in the Italian way –as Victor Manuel did with Mussolini– the Primo de Rivera dictatorship –1923-1930–. Alfonso fled in his car to Cartagena on the night of April 14 to 15, and from there left for Marseille to conclude his flight in Paris.
However, Alfonso XIII ended his last years of life in Rome, where his son Juan had Juan Carlos two years after the start of the Spanish Civil War. And it was so not only because of Alfonso’s flight from a Spain that had become republican, but because Franco did not want the Bourbons’ help in the Civil War either: on August 1, 1936, General Mola dispatched a Juan de Borbón, who had crossed the French border in a blue shirt to put himself at the service of the coup plotters.
But they did not want him: the future “leader of Spain by the grace of God” was not willing to share power with a lineage that had been occupying the Spanish monarchy since the war of succession (1701-1713).
Alfonso XIII died in Rome at the beginning of 1941, when his grandson Juan Carlos was three years old, and it was the moment in which Juan moved to Lausanne, where he proclaimed, after the end of the Civil War ended in a dictatorship in the that Franco had not reserved any role for the Bourbons, his aspiration to return to Spain as king, something that never happened: Franco managed to jump the dynastic order in favor of the now fled Juan Carlos I. The Bourbon efforts with Nazi Germany and the Fascist Italy had been sterile.
In 1944, as La Vanguardia remembered, Francisco Franco said the following to Juan de Borbón, installed in Lausanne: “a) The Monarchy abandoned power in 1931 to the Republic. B) We rose up against a republican situation. C) Our Movement had no monarchical significance, but Spanish and Catholic, d) Mola made it clearly established that the Movement was not monarchical (…) Therefore, the Regime did not overthrow the Monarchy nor was it obliged to reestablish it “.
Lausanne, Switzerland, a tax haven: it was there that Juan de Borbón, who later renounced his dynastic rights, opened an account that He bequeathed his son Juan Carlos with 375 million pesetas. As revealed by the newspaper El Mundo, the Count of Barcelona left his children with assets and funds worth Pta 1,100 million after his death on April 1, 1993. Most of that patrimony was found in three accounts in Switzerland, two in Lausanne and one in Geneva. In them there were funds deposited for a value of 728.75 million pesetas, which at the current change, and applying the CPI of the last 20 years, would be about 7.85 million euros. To this amount would be added a real estate patrimony of around 350 million pesetas, among which the Puerta de Hierro family villa in Madrid, a building on the Gran Vía in the capital and an apartment in the Portuguese city of Estoril stand out.
As El Mundo claimed, the bulk of the amounts deposited in Juan de Borbón’s Swiss accounts ended up in the hands of the king. Specifically, about 375 million pesetas. Juan Carlos de Borbón received them through three checks that were deposited on October 21, 1993, at which time the inheritance was distributed, in the 10,031 account of Sogenal –Société Générale Alsacienne de Banque–, from Geneva.
A large part of the funds received by the king came from one of the Lausanne accounts called “usufruct account” in the will. This account, of the Société de Banques Suisse, was partially emptied, but remained open with a balance of 24 million pesetas. The executors recommended to the king and his sisters, who received 172 and 131 million each, not to repatriate the fortune so as not to raise suspicions about the heritage of the Count of Barcelona, who was always said to have no important assets.
A few opaque monies in secret accounts in places where almost no taxes are paid, which are those that have finished cornering the emeritus: the announcement of his departure occurs precisely in the midst of a judicial investigation into the finances of Juan Carlos.
If a king in exile learns anything, it is that he has only one mission in life: to preserve the throne. Juan de Borbón learned it in Rome, Lausanne and Estoril, where he installed the court with which he began to conspire after leaving Lausanne. And, as he learned, he transferred the dynastic rights to his son Juan Carlos, as Alfonso had done with him months before he died. It is in the DNA of someone who aspires to be a monarch.
Now Juan Carlos follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Unlike his father, it seems that he managed to amass a fortune to cover various exiles. Like his father, he is making a decision that aims to detach his case from his son’s crown, thus preserving a king’s first mission: preserving the throne. And, for a time, the play went well: the 23F gave Juan Carlos a legitimacy that he did not have after having sworn the fundamental principles of the Franco regime in 1969; Spain seemed more Juancarlista than monarchical, and the main parties of the 78 regime, PSOE and PP, propped up a head of state to the point of agreeing to his abdication in the summer of 2014 when his situation was already unsustainable.
Juan de Borbón returned to Spain in 1963, after 32 years. The escape of Juan Carlos six years after handing over the crown to his son chains three generations in a row of Bourbons outside of Spain, with the question of whether, like his father, he will ever again set foot on Spanish soil. Or, like your grandfather, you will never do it.