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France 3, the French public television channel, yesterday aired a controversial ‘autobiographical’ documentary about former Spanish King Juan Carlos de Borbon. The documentary was co-produced by TVE, Spanish public television, which in recent years has avoided covering scandals involving the former monarch. Spanish television has so far refused to air the documentary.

The documentary, built around an interview with Juan Carlos, shows the former monarch defending his political career and at one point revealing a request made to him by Franco, the Spanish dictator: ‘The day before he died, he took my hand and all he asked was: Your Highness, preserve the unity of Spain’. The father of the present king underscored the significance of the request by adding: ‘And, if you think about it, that was loaded with meaning’, in what appears to be a veiled reference to the Catalan quest for independence.

In 1969, the fascist dictator officially named Juan Carlos as his successor in the role of king, which he served as until 2014, when he abdicated in favour of his son Felipe.

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