, MADRID, Apr 14 – Spanish King Juan Carlos had urgent surgery to replace his hip on Saturday after he fractured it in a fall during a private visit to Botswana, the royal palace said.
The 74-year-old king “had a surgical operation on his hip this morning at USP San Jose Hospital in Madrid” after returning from the unannounced trip, the palace said in a statement.
Spanish media said the king had been hunting elephants in the southern African country, but the royal palace would not confirm this.
It said Juan Carlos suffered an “accidental fall” in Botswana.
“Juan Carlos had suffered a fracture of his right hip in three places, linked to arthritis,” it added. “A reconstruction of the parts of the fracture was carried out and a hip implant was installed.”
A palace spokesman said a surgeon operated on the king immediately on his return to Madrid overnight.
Spanish newspapers said Juan Carlos is a keen huntsman and has frequently visited Botswana, whose vast game reserves are considered prime elephant-hunting destinations.
The private trip was not listed on his agenda of official engagements and the palace declined to say what he was doing when he fell.
Spanish national radio RNE said the king fell on Friday and was rushed back to Spain by plane.
Media reports said the king was likely to stay in hospital for 10 days. RNE reported that the king was in observation on Saturday afternoon after a four-hour operation.
Doctors were not immediately available to comment on the king’s condition but the hospital and palace said that Angel Villamor, the surgeon who operated on Juan Carlos, would give a news conference at 4:00 pm (1400 GMT).
It was the fourth operation the king has undergone in the past two years.
He had a benign tumour removed from a lung in May 2010 and last June he was given an artificial right knee joint. In September he had a torn Achilles tendon repaired.
In November the king wore sunglasses at an official ceremony to hide a black eye that a palace spokesman said he sustained when he was “hit by a doorknob.”
On Tuesday the royal family said that Juan Carlos’s 13-year-old grandson Felipe Marichalar Borbon had shot himself in the foot with a shotgun while learning to shoot.