Spain’s King Juan Carlos to spend six weeks recuperating after fracturing hip during Botswana elephant hunting trip
Monarch flown to to Madrid for four-hour operation
Faces backlash from Spaniards suffering austerity
Jaunt cost up to £27k per person
By Tom Worden
PUBLISHED: 15:21, 14 April 2012 | UPDATED: 14:00, 15 April 2012
King Juan Carlos has had an emergency hip replacement after falling during a hunting trip
Physicians caring for the king of Spain say he is likely to be recuperating for the next six weeks after fracturing his hip during a much-criticized elephant-hunting trip to Africa.
King Juan Carlos has come under a barrage of criticism for taking the trip while his country faces financial crisis.
The 74-year-old monarch – recovering in a Madrid hospital from a hip replacement operation – has delegated his duties as head of state to his son, Prince Felipe, while he recuperates.
The accident occurred early on Friday while the king was on safari in the Okavango area of Botswana. He was immediately flown home by private jet.
Angel Villamor, a spokesman for the medical team caring for him, said he is recovering well.
A royal palace statement said the king is due to begin physiotherapy Sunday.
King Carlos underwent hip replacement surgery after fracturing his right hip in three places.
The king had arrived in Africa on Monday and fell in his bedroom at a hunting lodge on yesterday. He was taken to Madrid last night on a 10-hour flight by private jet.
The four-hour operation was carried out by Dr Angel Villamor at the San Jose Hospital in the Spanish capital.
The king is expected to spend around ten days in hospital and another six weeks recuperating.
A spokesman for the Royal Palace said today: ‘Don Juan Carlos suffered a fracture in three fragments of his the right hip, linked to arthritis.
‘His majesty’s hip was operated on in the early hours of this morning by Dr Angel Villamor.
‘A reconstruction of the fragments of the femoral fracture was carried out, and a prosthetic hip was inserted during the same surgery.
‘His Majesty the King was admitted into hospital last night on return from a private trip to Botswana, where he injured his hip in an accidental fall.’
The jaunt was the king’s fourth operation in the past two years.
Photographs of Juan Carlos posing next to a dead elephant and holding a shotgun were posted on Spanish news websites yesterday.
The country is going through its worst financial crisis for decades. But the King’s trip is understood to have cost around 33,000 euros (£27,000) a person.
Many Spaniards took to Twitter to criticise the monarch for shooting elephants.
‘What a disgrace to see a photo of ‘our king’ killing elephants in Africa,’ wrote Manuel Caballero.
Another wrote: ‘Killing elephants is the cruelest and most expensive form of hunting.’
Some Spaniards were outraged that the king was on an expensive hunting trip in Africa while his country is in the grip of a recession, with a record 4.75 million unemployed.
Last week the king’s 13-year-old grandson Felipe Juan Froilan was taken to hospital after accidentally shooting himself in the foot with a small 36 caliber shotgun while carrying out target practice at his home near Madrid.
He is still recovering in the Quiron clinic in the Spanish capital.
In 1956 Juan Carlos, then 18, accidentally shot and killed his 14-year-old brother Alfonos while handling a gun in Estoril, Portugal.
The king has had eight operations since the 1980s, three of them following accidents while practising sports.
He is a fan of hunting, sailing and skiing, but had to give up the the slopes recently for health reasons.
Queen Sofia, who disapproves of hunting, is on a trip to Greece.