New black eye for Spanish royals? Princess Cristina under criminal investigation

A Spanish court today announced it will investigate the princess regarding alleged fraud by her husband. The action is only the latest scandal to bring public scrutiny of the Spanish royal family.

Jasper Juinen/AP/File
Spain's King Juan Carlos (r.) arrives with his daughter, Princess Cristina (c.) and her husband, Inaki Urdangarín, for an awards show in Barcelona, Spain, in May 2006. On Wednesday, a Spanish court named Cristina as a suspect in a corruption case involving her husband and will be called in for questioning on April 27.

A Spanish court announced Wednesday it will investigate Spanish Princess Cristina, daughter of King Juan Carlos, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation against her husband for alleged embezzlement of public funds – and spurring new questions about the future of the royal family.

The youngest of the king’s daughters, Cristina Federica de Borbón y Grecia, has been called to testify in three weeks in an unprecedented decision that directly ties the royal family to a scandal that is infuriating Spaniards. Princess Cristina is a suspect in the scandal case, although she has not so far been charged with any crime. The prosecution in the case has already appealed the incrimination, a judicial process that precedes an indictment or formal charges.

The royal family said that it was "surprised" at the court's decision, and that it supports the prosecution's appeal.

Cristina will be investigated for her possible role in the alleged crimes of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín. Urdangarín, the Duke of Palma de Mallorca and a former Olympic sports figure and professional handball athlete, is under formal judicial investigation related to the embezzlement of more than 6 million euro in public funds, though he has yet to be charged.

Urdangarín allegedly used his ties to the crown and nobility to secure contracts with regional governments to organize sporting events, along with his partner Diego Torres. They are also being investigated over the possible use of their nonprofit organization as a front to siphon money and evade taxes.

The court itself is based in Palma de Mallorca, in Spain's Balearic Islands. Judge Jose Castro wrote in the enabling decision that while it appears Cristina was not involved in daily operations of the scheme, “there are indications that she consented to allow the use of family ties to the King” and “it’s doubtful” that she wasn’t aware of how her husband was using her name.

The evidence against Cristina was provided by Mr. Torres in the form of dozens of emails that directly name her or are even addressed to her. Urdangarín’s attorneys have consistently denied the royal family’s knowledge of his affairs, but have been unable to have the emails discarded.

The emails suggest Cristina was at least informed of some decisions, though prosecutors disagree with the judge's decision to investigate the princess. They argue that while she was formally part of the board of her husband’s nonprofit, she had no decision-making role.

Family business?

In January, the court set an 8.1 million euro ($10 million) bail for Urdangarín and Torres, and after failing to pay, ordered the repossession of properties owned by Urdangarín and Cristina, including their small palace in Barcelona. The order is under appeal. The personal secretary of the king’s two daughters has also been incriminated in the corruption scheme, and the king’s legal adviser has been subpoenaed to testify, among other high-profile figures.

The royal family has long publicly distanced itself from Urdangarín and promised to support the court investigation, regardless of who is involved. But the embezzlement scandal, especially as the investigation draws closer to the royal family and its entourage, has hit a nerve among Spaniards and undermined trust in the strongest Spanish institution.

For some time now, the future of Spain’s monarchy has become a public debate, not just among the population but increasingly among politicians as well. Until recently, such criticism was unheard of, but political parties now are openly asking Juan Carlos to abdicate in favor of his son, Prince Felipe.

While smaller scandals have fueled the criticism, as has the obviously deteriorating health of the aging monarch, the Urdangarín case and the alleged direct implication to the crown has been significantly more damaging.

One of the most popular leaders of Spain’s left, Gaspar Llamazares, was confrontational. “We’ll see if the Crown collaborates and abides to the equality of all before the law. [The case] is no longer about an outsider,” referring to Urdangarín, “but about the business affairs of the Crown.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to New black eye for Spanish royals? Princess Cristina under criminal investigation
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today