August 31, 2019 / 12:22 PM / 16 days ago

Spain's King Juan Carlos leaves hospital a week after heart surgery

FILE PHOTO: Spain's King Juan Carlos arrives to undergo heart surgery to the Quiron Hospital in Madrid, Spain, August 23, 2019. Victor Sainz/El Pais/Handout via Reuters

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s King Juan Carlos, 81 and the father of the current head of state King Felipe VI, left hospital on Saturday one week after undergoing heart surgery, a regional head for the Hospital Quiron said.

“His Majesty the King Don Juan Carlos was discharged this morning, he is clinically stable (...) the cardiological examination shows a normal cardiac rhythm,” said Lucia Alonso, Quiron’s regional head said.

Juan Carlos, who retained the title of emeritus King after his abdication in 2014, joked with journalists as he was taken away in a car outside the hospital on the outskirts of Madrid.

“It’s as if a truck has passed over you but now once the truck has been removed (...) new piping, phenomenal,” he said with a smile on his face to journalists.

In May, Juan Carlos announced his decision to withdraw from public life, giving up his remaining institutional functions and appearances from June.

The king played a critical role guiding Spain to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, but his 40-year reign was tarnished in later years by accusations that he was out of touch with ordinary people, especially during the economic crisis in 2008-14.

Reporting By Jesús Aguado; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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