John of Borbó and Battenberg lived almost all his life in exile, but at the time of his death, after several months admitted to the University Clinic of Pamplona, he had become a figure that aroused compassion precisely for his long agony that ended on April 1, 1993, 30 years ago today.
The father of King Juan Carlos, therefore Felipe VI's grandfather, lived more outside Spain than in Spain during his 79 years of life. He was born on June 20, 1913 in La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia) where Queen Victoria Eugenia gave birth. The proclamation of the Second Republic, in 1931, caught him sailing on a ship of the British Royal Navy. He inherited the rights to the Crown, after the death of Alfonso XIII and the resignations due to illness of his older brothers and was known as Count of Barcelona, a historical title inherited from the sovereigns of the Crown of Aragon. After an initial period in Italy, France and Switzerland, he ended up settling in Estoril (Portugal) until he returned definitively to Spain in 1977, after ceding dynastic rights and the direction of the Royal House to his son Joan Carlos, proclaimed king in 1975.
During the fifteen years he lived in Spain, he did not have much public prominence, except in the ceremonies that had to do with the Navy, of which he was appointed honorary admiral. An iconic image is the Joan of Bourbon, King Joan Charles and then Prince Felipe, on board the Juan Sebastián de Elcano, the school ship where the three, at different times, served as midshipmen.
The sea was his passion and once back in Spain he spent part of his time on board the Giralda, a somewhat decrepit sailboat with which he was seen at the Club de Mar in Palma, while in Marivent he settled ·lava Constantine of Greece and his family. He never complained, until in the summer of 1992 he had to be hospitalized urgently due to complications from laryngeal cancer.
The disease had manifested itself years before and had forced him to undergo a tracheotomy. Hardly able to speak, eat or drink, in his last years he allowed himself the luxury of drinking a gin and tonic with a syringe.
In the middle of January 1993, Joan de Borbó entered the Navarra University Clinic, from which he only left, making a last effort, on January 18, 1993 to receive the Navarre Gold Medal. He then returned to the health center aware that he was living his last days, which eventually turned into weeks. Kings Juan Carlos and Sofia practically lived in Pamplona, staying at the Blanca de Navarra hotel, located opposite the clinic. Every time they made an attempt to return to Madrid, the doctors warned of the imminence of Joan de Borbó's death. It didn't happen once, not twice, never was a prognosis so contradicted by reality as during those weeks, in which Joan de Borbó experienced his last moments several times. In Pamplona, the infants Pilar and Margarida also settled there, while the grandsons of the dying man came and went. The countess of Barcelona arrived in Pamplona when the last warning of the end was, indeed, the final end.
At that time, the aristocrat Beltrán Osorio, Duke of Alburquerque, was head of the House of Barcelona. On April 1st, he decided to leave Pamplona, for the first time in weeks, and travel to Madrid to arrange some business. So he left the capital of Navarre and Joan de Borbó died. The kings Juan Carlos and Sofia, the infants Pilar and Margarida were having lunch, as every day, in a private dining room of the clinic, when they were informed that their father had died.
The government of Felipe González, at the request of King Juan Carlos, granted Juan de Borbó the treatment of king and the right to have state funerals. Son of a king, father of a king, but never a king, he ended up being transferred to El Escorial as John III. In a last attempt to magnify his figure, his wish to serve as Count of Barcelona for posterity and to be buried in the chapel of Sant Benet in the monastery of Poblet, where he left two tombs paid for, was not respected. one for him and another for the Countess of Barcelona.
The remains of Joan de Borbó were deposited in the so-called Pudridero, where they spend 25 years covered in lime until they shrink and can occupy the small tomb of the Pantheon of Kings. They are still there, thirty years later, without Joan de Borbó having moved to their definitive niche.