King Strips Sister Of Title

King Felipe last week stripped his sister Infanta Cristina of her Duchess of Palma title because of the corruption scandal embroiling her and her husband.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
King Felipe arriving at the Royal Cavalry Armory in Seville. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

King Juan Carlos made infanta Cristina a duchess when she married Iñaki Urdangarin. But authorities accuse Urdangarin of using a non-profit company for personal gain. And the Infanta has stood by her husband.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

The Royal Household under Don Juan Carlos had already stripped the couple of royal duties and had urged Infanta Cristina to renounce her dynastic rights. She has refused.

Inaki-Urdangarin-infanta-Cristina
Infanta Cristina and her husband.

Events have moved fast. Infanta Cristina was in Spain recently with the rest of her family for Prince Kardam’s funeral.

King Juan Carlos during an international business promotion meeting in Madrid.  © Casa de S.M. el Rey
King Juan Carlos during an international business promotion meeting in Madrid.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

However, now the dispute is over whether the King stripped Infanta Cristina of her title or she resigned it. She sent him a letter doing so at around the same time.

Queen Sofia heading a meeting on mental health. © Casa de S.M. el Rey
Queen Sofia heading a meeting on mental health.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey

Infanta Cristina is now living and working in Geneva. Her mother, Queen Sofia, serves as a bridge between family members.

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Infanta Cristina Testifies

Infanta Cristina, King Juan Carlos’ youngest daughter, testified yesterday for several hours before a Balearic Islands judge in connection with her husband’s corruption investigation.

Infanta Cristina, according to media reports, said she trusted her husband and also appeared to vouch for his innocence.

Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma. Photo courtesy Organization of American States via Flickr.
Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma. Photo courtesy Organization of American States via Flickr.

Anti-corruption investigators believe the the infanta’s husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, used a sports related foundation to funnel public funds for personal use.

Even though prosecutors did not want to involve the King’s daughter in the formal investigation, Judge José Castro called her to testify over whether she had any knowledge or played a part in any crimes.

King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia host a reception for diplomats in Spain at the throne room of the Royal Palace in Madrid. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia host a reception for diplomats in Spain at the throne room of the Royal Palace in Madrid.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

The case has become a major headache for the Royal Family amid Spain’s economic crisis and the public’s widespread disdain for people in power.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
Prince Felipe in Tunisia last week celebrating the country’s new Constitution.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

About 200 agents were at the courthouse for security, said media reports. There were also numerous supporters and anti-monarchy protesters. She smiled and greeted the crowd.

Officials allowed Infanta Cristina’s drivers to drop her off near the courthouse door but they denied any special treatment.

Tough Week For King

King Juan Carlos was hoping for this year to be better than the last. But the first week of 2014 is already giving him major headaches.

His Majesty made his first public Monday appearance outside his home, Zarzuela Palace, since his last hip surgery for the annual “Pascua Militar” event at the Royal Palace.

However, Don Juan Carlos still had trouble walking, relied on crutches and fumbled through parts of his speech.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia with Spanish government officials.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

The King’s physical weakness has led some officials to press him to consider abdication. He has declined to do so.

The Royal Household instead highlighted the austerity surrounding the ceremonies and said the King, who blamed low light in the palace’s Throne Room, was just as disappointed in himself.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia at the Royal Palace Throne Room.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

But then came news that Judge José Castro had decided to subpoena the King’s daughter, Infanta Cristina, in the corruption investigation involving her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin.

An appeals court had thrown out a previous call for the Infanta to testify. The prosecutor in the case has expressed disagreement with involving her.

Still, she is due to appear in a Palma de Mallorca courtroom in March, according to various news sources.

Royal Household chief Rafael Spottorno has called for a swift resolution of the investigation. The King has said he respects judicial decisions.

King Juan Carlos and Prince Felipe meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at Zarzuela Palace today.
King Juan Carlos and Prince Felipe meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at Zarzuela Palace today.

While the Royal Household is looking to recover its eroded popularity — which it surveys regularly — this week’s events has led to more bad press.

The ongoing tough economy plus the loud calls for independence from at least some sectors of Catalan society are also a concern.

Media outlets reported that protestors jeered Queen Sofia and a number of public officials during a public event in Madrid this evening.

Infanta Cristina No Longer Under Subpoena

A court in Palma de Mallorca overturned today a recent subpoena against King Juan Carlos’ daughter Infanta Cristina in connection with her husband’s corruption investigation.

Judge José Castro, investigating allegations that Duke of Palma Iñaki Urdangarin used a non-profit company to line his pockets with government contracts, subpoenaed Infanta Cristina in April.

However, prosecutors appealed his decision citing lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, other members of the Royal Family are continuing with a busy schedule in part to rehabilitate the Crown’s image.

Prince Felipe in Seville today. © Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
Prince Felipe in Seville.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Today Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia visited a gallery and port facility in Seville.

Princess Letizia in Seville.
Princess Letizia in Seville.

Infanta Cristina Now A Suspect In Corruption Probe

Balearic Islands Judge José Castro has named King Juan Carlos’ daughter Infanta Cristina in a corruption probe surrounding her husband Iñaki Urdangarin.

Infanta Cristina, center, at a Red Cross event.
Infanta Cristina, center, at a Red Cross event.

Urdangarin is under investigation for allegedly using a non-profit company to funnel public funds for private gain.

Former associate Diego Torres has handed over documents in an attempt to tie other members of the Royal Family in the scandal.

The Royal Household — which expressed surprise at the news — has denied wrongdoing and King Juan Carlos years ago told Urdangarin to give up questionable business dealings.

Today Queen Sofia handed out awards to encourage greater access for people with disabilities.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Prince Felipe visited a new energy facility in the Basque Country.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

Infanta Cristina is the first member of the nuclear Royal Family to ever be called before a judge as a suspect.

King’s Operation A Success

King Juan Carlos is out of intensive care and has already taken his first steps after a hernia operation.

© Agencia EFE. Posted online by the Royal Household.
© Agencia EFE. Posted online by the Royal Household.

His Majesty went to La Milagrosa hospital in Madrid for the scheduled operation.

Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia. © Agencia EFE. Posted online by the Royal Household.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.
© Agencia EFE. Posted online by the Royal Household.

Several members of the Royal Family have made their way to visit Don Juan Carlos at the hospital. So has Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

© Agencia EFE. Posted online by the Royal Household.
Queen Sofia, Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina.
© Agencia EFE. Posted online by the Royal Household.

The King is expected to be in the hospital for about a week, but will spend a few more in recovery.

Monarchy Now In Crisis

Media reports indicate that prosecutors may ask a judge to include Infanta Cristina in their anti-corruption investigation involving her husband Iñaki Urdangarin.

Also, some politicians are re-opening the question of abdication, suggesting that King Juan Carlos make way for his son to take over as Head of State.

King Juan Carlos scheduled to return to the hospital soon for hernia operation.
© Casa de S.M. el Rey / Borja Fotógrafos

However, the Royal Household said there was no talk at all of abdication.

Prince Felipe leads a meeting on the economy at the Bank of Spain.
Prince Felipe leads a meeting on the economy at the Bank of Spain.

Today, Spanish Government Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, according to news reports, defended King Juan Carlos and the Monarchy as a uniting force in Spanish society.

She also dismissed efforts to include the Royal Household in new transparency legislation. She said it should remain autonomous from other agencies.

While the King has published budget and earnings information, the ruling conservative People’s Party says more open books would be unprecedented among major European Royal Houses.

Queen Sofia inaugurates new pharmaceutical facilities in Guadalajara.
Queen Sofia inaugurates new pharmaceutical facilities in Guadalajara.

Urdangarin is scheduled to testify again in the investigation this weekend.

Click here for a an Associated Press story on the Monarchy’s popularity troubles.

Click here for another story from the New York Times.