Accident-prone king is under fire for elephant hunting trip

SPAIN’S King Juan Carlos has come under scathing criticism for going on an expensive elephant hunting trip in Botswana amid his nation’s deep financial troubles.

And to make matters worse, he has suffered an accident which put the 74-year-old in hospital.

Doctors said yesterday that he was recovering well after a hip replacement but would not be able to resume full duties for more than a month.

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Tomas Gomez, Madrid’s regional Socialist party leader, said the head of state must choose between his public responsibilities “and an abdication that would allow him to enjoy a different lifestyle”.

Spanish newspapers yesterday were filled with accounts of how hunting trips to Botswana, where Juan Carlos fell, cost more than most Spaniards earn in a year. El Pais said the cost to arrange a hunting trip in Botswana to kill an elephant usually comes in at €44,000, (£36,300) about twice the country’s average annual salary.

The accident happened on Friday while the king was on safari in Botswana and he was immediately flown home by private jet.

Juan Carlos had a hip replacement early on Saturday, and by yesterday had begun walking with crutches, said Angel Villamor, a spokesman for San Jose hospital, where the king is recovering.

Newspaper El Mundo, which usually supports Spain’s royalty, reported the king had been hunting elephants for four days in Botswana before he tripped and fell before dawn at the chalet where he was staying.

Citing royal spokesman Rafael Spottorno, El Mundo said the king had not told Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government of his trip abroad until after the accident.