Spain's King Juan Carlos made a rare public apology Wednesday for his recent hunting trip to Africa that has caused an outcry in Spain and abroad for its expense during the nation's economic crisis and for hunting elephants.

"I am very sorry. I made a mistake and it won't happen again," the king told Spanish state television TVE as he left a Madrid hospital, where he underwent hip surgery last weekend after falling on the hunting trip in Botswana.

The trip was intended to be a private outing for the 74-year-old king, unknown to the media and most Spaniards, until he was rushed back to Madrid and underwent replacement surgery on his right hip.