Spain's king will have hip surgery for a third time

Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:23pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Elisabeth O'Leary

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's King Juan Carlos will have hip surgery for a third time, the royal palace said on Friday, reviving speculation the ailing monarch may be close to abdicating.

The 75-year-old monarch, who walks with a cane and has appeared visibly more frail in recent months, has had five surgeries in the last two years. Both of his hips have been replaced and in March he had an operation on a spinal disc hernia.

"His Majesty will have to be operated on to replace his hip prosthesis which appears to be infected," royal place chief of staff Rafael Spottorno told a news conference. "The operation will take place in Madrid in the coming days."

Spottorno said that abdication was a personal decision for the king, but stressed that he had "at no moment" contemplated it.

The King, who helped guide Spain to democracy at the end of the Francisco Franco dictatorship in 1975, was long one of Europe's most popular monarchs, but a series of scandals have eroded public support for the royal family.

The king's son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin has been charged with tax fraud and embezzling 6 million euros ($8 million) in public funds, through his charitable foundation.

Last year, at the height of Spain's financial crisis when the country teetered on the verge of an international bailout, the king fell and broke his hip during a secret safari in Botswana.

Spaniards were outraged that the king - once loved for his common touch - was on an expensive trip at a time when one out of four of his subjects is unemployed.   Continued...

Spain's King Juan Carlos addresses the media next to Spanish Development Minister Ana Pastor (R) and Queen Sofia (L) after visiting the victims of a train crash at Clinico Universitario Hospital in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain, July 25, 2013. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso