Spanish king sorry over Africa hunting trip
Spanish King Juan Carlos apologised Wednesday as he emerged from hospital after breaking his hip on an African elephant hunting trip, which provoked a scandal at home.
“I am very sorry. I made a mistake and it won’t happen again. Thank you for your interest,” the 74-year-old monarch said during his televised departure from a Madrid hospital. Looking serious, the king said he was feeling “much better” after the hip replacement performed at the capital’s USP San Jose Hospital and was looking forward to resuming his official duties.
Doctors discharged the head of state a few hours earlier, saying in a statement that after a “very satisfactory” recovery since Saturday’s operation, Juan Carlos was now able to get around by himself. The king, though widely respected for his role in steering the country to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, was harshly criticised for his Botswana hunting trip.
Many were angered by the extravagance of the holiday, coming at a time when millions of Spaniards are suffering in recession, and the fact that he was hunting big game. Leaders of the two main political parties have refrained from explicitly criticising or defending the king. But newspapers were not so forgiving.
The conservative daily El Mundo branded the trip “irresponsible” and “inopportune” in an economic crisis.
“The sight of a monarch hunting elephants in Africa when the economic crisis in our country is causing so many problems for Spaniards does not set a good example,” it said.