WWF ousts Spanish king as honorary president over Botswana hunting trip
July 22, 2012 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
- King Juan Carlos' hunting trip sparks an outcry over its extravagance
- Animal rights activists join the firestorm after reports emerge that he was hunting elephants
- Spain is undergoing an economic crisis
- "I am very sorry. I made a mistake and it won't happen again," the king says
(CNN) -- The conservation group World Wildlife Fund ousted Spain's King Juan Carlos as its honorary president after his Botswana hunting trip sparked an outcry for its extravagance during an economic crisis.
The king's private visit came to light this year when he was rushed back to Madrid to undergo hip surgery after falling during the trip.
A firestorm ensued, forcing the 74-year-old king to apologize in April.
"I am very sorry. I made a mistake and it won't happen again," the king said on Spanish state television as he left the hospital.
Spain's king apologizes for African hunting trip
Spanish king blasted for costly safari
The Spanish chapter of the WWF voted Saturday to abolish the honorary post, which the king has held since 1968.
"Although not illegal, the hunting was widely viewed as incompatible with the King's position at the head of WWF-Spain," the group said in a statement.
There was no immediate response from the royal palace.
Spaniards hold the king in high regard for his service to the nation and his defense of democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
The criticism of the trip initially focused on the expensive safari amid the nation's 23% unemployment rate and austerity measures to make up for budget shortfalls. Some critics also wondered how much public money was spent for security during the king's private trip.
As the economic crisis was unraveling, the king expressed concern over the impact on Spaniards and urged them to come together to get through the tough times.
The royal household has a budget of 8.26 million euros ($10.8 million) this year -- 2% less than last year -- and has announced cuts in salaries of some of its staffers.
The safari was the latest in a series of scandals for the royal family this year.
In April, the king's 13-year-old grandson shot himself in the foot with a shotgun during target practice with his father. The legal age in Spain to handle firearms, even when accompanied by an adult, is 14.
And the king's son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin is a suspect in a financial fraud scandal in which public funds earmarked for his foundation allegedly were diverted for private use. He denies the charges.
CNN's Al Goodman contributed to this report
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories