Last Monday morning, hours before the publication of a letter in which former Spanish king Juan Carlos I told current monarch Felipe VI of his decision to leave his country due to the doubts about his conduct, the king emeritus had already flown from the Galician city of Vigo to the first destination of his exile, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
This has been revealed by Spanish newspaper ABC, which outlines the flight plan of the former king's plane as evidence, and claims that this was altered to avoid tracking, even though the official version of the Spanish government is that the king's departure is in no sense an escape and there is nothing about the matter which needs to be hidden.
Neither Portugal nor the Dominican Republic
Since up till now the only element that has been accepted as true about Juan Carlos's movements is that he was in the north-western community of Galicia on Sunday, the departure from Vigo airport seems plausible, even if the real destination was neither Portugal nor the Dominican Republic. After four days in parts unknown, it seems that the first country visited by Juan Carlos is a monarchy in the Middle East - precisely the part of the world in which his current corruption scandal allegedly began.
According to the pro-monarchist newspaper, the king emeritus took off at 10 am - although the departure of the flight was not known about until 6pm - in a private Global 6500 jet with registration number 9H-VBIG. It had been rented from the company TAG Aviation, directly at its headquarters in Malta, a measure interpreted as a manoeuvre to avoid leaks. In addition, the flight plan was altered to avoid tracking, which according to ABC is "not illegal" and common practice among footballers, businessmen and entertainment stars.
Once in Abu Dhabi, Juan Carlos is said to have transferred by helicopter to the Emirates Palace Hotel, owned by the UAE government. He would have already settled in to his new accommodation when the royal palace in Madrid published the letter revealing his intention to leave Spain.
According to ABC, Juan Carlos has not moved from the hotel, a true paparazzi-proof bunker, but the newspaper indicates that his likely next destination will be the Dominican Republic. But of course, once the hurricane season is over.