Spanish former King Juan Carlos denied claims made in a new book that he had a secret daughter in comments to Spanish news agency Efe on Friday.

It is rare for the former monarch, who in recent years has been hit by a whirlwind of financial and personal scandals, to comment personally on stories about his private life.

“I absolutely deny having had any amorous relationship with Mrs. Rosario Palacios and consequently having a daughter with her,” he told Efe from his home in Abu Dhabi.

Juan Carlos, 84, said he was commenting on the rumour “out of respect for the truth” and the “honour” of the people affected, adding he was “rejecting and condemning as false all that has been published in relation to this invented affair”.

Many major Spanish outlets picked up the story after a book by two investigative journalists, due to be published on May 8, claimed Juan Carlos had fathered a secret daughter, Alejandra, some time in the late 1970s or early 1980s with Palacios, a Spanish aristocrat.

Juan Carlos departed to Abu Dhabi in 2020 under a cloud of financial scandals that shook the Royal House.

Once revered for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy, the popularity of the former king fell drastically after scandals that included an affair with Danish national Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein Sayn and the shooting of an elephant in Botswana. He abdicated the throne in 2014.

The former monarch left Spain for Abu Dhabi in August 2020 after several investigations opened in Spain and Switzerland over alleged fraud.