World and Nation

Scandal darkens doorstep of Spain’s royal family

MADRID — The website of the Spanish royal family features pictures of the king, Juan Carlos I, in a blue sash, his bejeweled wife, Queen Sofia, and the couple’s three glamorous children. But most of the photographs of the dashing Duke of Palma, the king’s son-in-law, were scrubbed from the site last month.

The duke’s official biography was also banished from the site. And for more than a year, the royal family has banned the duke, a former Olympic handball player named Inaki Urdangarin, from attending official family functions.

With a multitude of graft cases undermining Spaniards’ faith in just about every institution of government, an intensifying investigation aimed at Urdangarin has placed the palace under siege as well, and left the nation’s aging monarch and his aides struggling to quell the crisis.

Urdangarin, 45, who is married to the king’s youngest daughter, Cristina, 47, is scheduled to testify on Saturday before an investigating judge over allegations that he embezzled millions of euros after leveraging his blue-blood connections to gain inflated, no-bid contracts from regional politicians for his nonprofit sports foundation, Instituto Noos.

The royal family has tried mightily to distance itself from the investigation. Officially, the palace has insisted that the king knew nothing about the foundation activities of Urdangarin, who has pledged to prove his innocence. It publicly maintains that Juan Carlos ordered his son-in-law to abandon the troubled foundation in 2006, a year before dubious financial dealings surfaced.

1 Comment
Isabella about 10 years ago

This is what happens when royal families who have enjoyed entitlement and status for hundreds of years suddenly have to face reality. In a way I feel very sorry for Inaki Urdangarin. He was simply not wealthy enough to support a palace-bred royal princess as his wife, and catholicly breed four (4!) children to be brought up with all royal appurtanences. On one hand he was made Duke of Palma and on the other found wanting and probably enduring crushing pressure to keep up royal life-style appearances. Difficult to blame the Infanta as nothing in her upbringing as a daughter of Monarchs would have prepared them for frugality and sacrifice. This reminds me of the tongue-lashing the wretched Peter Phillips (son of UK's Princess Anne) received from the Queen for having sold his wedding pictures to a tabloid to help fund the appropriately 'royal' wedding everybody expected. Neither his mother nor his grand-mother loosened their purse string to help out, but finding a different way around the problem was "not done."

King Juan Carlos, using his mistress as a head-hunter among many other failings, is far from blameless and had better not meter out too harsh a punishment to Urdangarin: His Majesty himself might find his name is next on the list of street names changing to more deserving personages.