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article imageKing apologizes to Spanish people for going hunting during crisis

By Anne Sewell     Apr 18, 2012 in World
Madrid - The Spanish King's trip to Botswana was widely criticised as the story emerged when he was flown home for treatment for a fractured hip.
Yesterday Digital Journal reported on the fact that Spain's King Juan Carlos had been asked to quit the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) after killing an elephant during a hunt.
He was heard to say: "I'm very sorry, I made a mistake. It won't happen again," as he left San Jose hospital in Madrid.
Spain is currently the 4th largest economy in the eurozone but with the current debt crisis, the country is suffering and currently has a 23% unemployment rate. There are fears the country could fall into recession. Understandably, cash-strapped Spaniards were enraged that the King could go big game hunting during such dire times.
Tom Burridge, the BBC's correspondent in Madrid has said that the king faced a public outcry for going to Africa and quite probably hunting elephants while a lot of people in Spain were struggling with the harsh reality of an economic crisis.
While it has been widely reported that he was hunting elephants in Botswana, the Royal house has not yet confirmed or denied this. During his trip, he broke his hip falling on a step and had to be flown home by private jet. On Saturday, the King underwent hip replacement surgery.
Once the news was out in Spain about his safari trip to Botswana, many Spanish newspapers published the now very controversial image of the King, dating back to 2006, where he is pictured with a gun next to a dead elephant.
King Juan Carlos, 74, is honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund and within a couple of days an online petition asking for his resignation from the WWF garnered almost 85,000 signatures.
While leaders of the ruling Popular Party (PP) have declined to comment on the controversy, the PSOE Socialist party's leader in Madrid, Tomas Gomez, did suggest that the king should choose between his "public responsibilities, or an abdication".
The local Spanish newspaper, El Pais reported that the King had decided to speak publicly in front of television cameras, rather than leaving the matter to a statement from the Palace.
While the Royal family is generally popular with the Spanish people, there has been a lot of controversy of late. Digital Journal recently reported the fact that the King's grandson, 13-year-old Felipe Juan Froilán had a trip to hospital himself after a shooting incident. The child shot himself in the foot during target practice at home. In Spain, it is an offence for anyone under the age of 14 to use a firearm and there will be an investigation into the incident by the Guardia Civil police force.
Another controversial story is that the King's son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, was questioned in a corruption scandal involving claims that he used public funds to organize sports events. For this reason he has now been suspended from participating in royal engagements.
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