Hobbling Spanish king says sorry he hunted elephants
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 01:38
April 18 - Spain's King Juan Carlos apologizes to angry Spaniards facing dire economic hardship for an African elephant-hunting trip. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: Spain's King Juan Carlos I hobbled out of a Madrid hospital on Wednesday and apologized for making an elephant-hunting trip to Botswana - a jaunt which has caused outrage in a country suffering from an economic crisis.
The 74-year-old monarch, who suffers from osteoarthritis, had fractured his hip in Botswana and was flown back to Spain for emergency replacement surgery on Saturday.
"I feel much better...I'm very sorry. I made a mistake and it won't happen again," the King told reporters outside his hospital room in Madrid's San Jose hospital.
A few minutes later, the king waved to reporters and onlookers, some of them booing, from his vehicle as he left the hospital. Police tried to take away an anti-monarchy protester who held a placard asking for the king's resignation.
Spanish media have slammed the monarch for the expensive trip, which only came to light because of the accident. Spain is struggling against a massive public deficit and soaring unemployment, with half of young people out of work.
News of the King's holiday came at a time when Spain's political leaders face growing social anger and the monarchy and its role have been in focus in recent weeks. It also angered wildlife activists, with thousands flooding social media with calls for the king to relinquish his position as honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund.
The royal family was criticized in December when Inaki Urdangarin, the husband of the king's youngest daughter Cristina, was charged in a fraud and embezzlement case. A separate accident also drew attention to the royal family last week, when Felipe Juan Froilan, the 13-year-old son of the king's eldest daughter Infanta Elena, accidentally shot himself in the foot with a shotgun during target practice outside a family home north of Madrid.
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