MONARCHY

King Juan Carlos bows to austerity by giving up his yacht

Monarch received the 21-million-euro Fortuna as a gift in 2000

King Juan Carlos’s yacht in Palma de Mallorca. / MIQUEL MASSUTI

King Juan Carlos will not be sailing again on the Fortuna, the luxury yacht he received in 2000 as a present from the regional government of the Balearic Islands and a group of businesspeople.

The ship, which is 41.5 meters long, cost 3.5 billion pesetas at the time, or 21 million euros.

The monarch has decided to give it away to the Spanish government, because “it makes no sense” to keep it when all of Spain’s institutions are being forced to set examples of austerity, said sources at the royal palace of La Zarzuela. Filling up the yacht’s fuel tanks alone costs over 20,000 euros.

The cabinet will now have to decide whether to keep or sell the vessel.

The last time King Juan Carlos sailed in the Fortuna was in August of last year, for about six hours. For the rest of the summer, the royal family used the Somni, a more modest vessel owned by the shipbuilder José Cusí, who is a personal friend of the monarch.

Most of the 30-odd businesspeople who joined together with the Popular Party government of the Balearics to give the king the Fortuna were from the tourism sector and said they wanted to ensure the royal family would be a regular presence in the Balearics, as it would be good for tourism. Donors included Gabriel Barceló of Grupo Barceló; Gabriel Escarrer of the Sol Meliá hotel chain; Juan José Hidalgo of Air Europa; Carmen Matutes of the hotel group Fiesta; and Miguel Fluxà of Viajes Iberia.

Before this, the king had owned two other Fortunas, the second of which was a present from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in 1979.

Thirteen years after the king first sailed in the ship with his daughter Cristina, on March 22, 2000, the economic situation has led Spaniards to question the spending habits of every national institution, including the monarchy. A recent opinion poll gave the royal family a failing grade of 3.6 out of 10 for trust for the first time in history, as it found itself embroiled in a corruption scandal involving Cristina’s husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, who faces charges of embezzling millions of euros from public contracts awarded arbitrarily by the regional governments of Valencia and the Balearic Islands.

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