Spain has given us theater this week from the pages of kings past. Its high-spirited former monarch, Juan Carlos, stated on Monday in a letter to his son, King Felipe VI, that he was going into exile “outside Spain.” He is now in the Dominican Republic as the guest of a pal with a vast loaner villa.

Unlike the last instance of a monarch decamping from his own kingdom—Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s flight out of Iran in 1979—the departure of Juan Carlos, 82, is voluntary. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a form of self-preservation….

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