MADRID - Spanish King Juan Carlos had urgent surgery to replace his hip 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 overnight from an unannounced trip to the southern African country, the palace said in a statement.
"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."
It said Juan Carlos suffered an "accidental fall" in Botswana.
A palace spokesman said a surgeon operated on the king immediately on his return to Madrid overnight, but could not say exactly when the accident took place.
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.
The palace said it would give a further update on his condition in the coming hours. Media reports said the king was likely to stay in hospital for 10 days.
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.