In the emails, the king’s son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarín, laughs at the expense of his royal relatives.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
Having seen the British royal family’s private affairs splashed across the front pages, and Windsor Castle seriously damaged in a fire, the Queen famously described 1992 as her “annus horribilis”.
Over in Spain, her counterpart, Juan Carlos, must be busily scrabbling through the Latin dictionary to find a phrase that goes a step further. “Annus horribilissimus,” perhaps.
Things couldn’t really get much worse for the once-loved Spanish royals. On Friday, the satirical magazine Mongolia published the latest in a series of emails that have emerged from the royal household, heaping yet more damage on an already tarnished brand.
In them, the king’s son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarín, is revealed as a rather ungallant character who thinks nothing of mocking his own sister-in-law, revelling in base, sexist humour, and laughing at the expense of his royal relatives.
It hasn’t been a great week for Urdangarín, the Duke of Palma de Mallorca. On Monday, a judge confiscated half of a palace and various other villas he owns with his wife, the Infanta Cristina, the king’s youngest daughter.
The assets were to be held as bail in an ongoing investigation into allegations that Urdangarín, 45, and his one-time business partner exploited his royal connections to embezzle €6m (£5m) in public funds.
Cristina, who has yet to face any charges, may yet find herself summoned before a judge after documents showed she signed herself as both landlord and tenant on the palace.
The royal family denies any part in alleged wrongdoing.
Urdangarín, a former Olympic medal-winning handball player, was once held up as the bright, shiny new face of the modern royal family. He married Cristina in 1997, and all seemed set fair for the next generation of royals.
But since charges were first brought against him in 2011, nothing has gone right.
In the latest emails, which date back to 2003-04, he forwarded an obscene joke about his sister-in-law, Letizia, who is married to the next in line to the throne, Crown Prince Felipe. In another email, also published by El Mundo newspaper, he suggests Letizia, a former TV news presenter, was enjoying a “royal orgasm”.
One of the emails, which he mostly sent either to his wife or a group of old friends, mocks women’s intelligence by suggesting that an ironing board is the female equivalent of a computer. In another he says that he is considering going to work for the UN refugee agency and attaches a picture of the people he will be working with. The photo is of a group of semi-naked women.
Earlier this year, Urdangarín, who denies the charges against him, petitioned a court in Barcelona to prevent the publication of his private emails, but this was rejected.
Urdangarín, who according to reports has been sidelined by his royal father-in-law, will surely have lost whatever goodwill remained with these latest revelations.
This week, it was announced that the king, 75, would be undergoing a hip replacement operation later this month. It would be his seventh operation in two years, and comes at a time of increasing calls for him to abdicate.
Juan Carlos has for a long time held a special place in the affections of the Spanish public, having played a key role in helping the country make its transition to democracy after the death of the former dictator, General Francisco Franco, in 1975.
He was admired for standing up to a coup attempt in 1981, and until recently could do no wrong in the eyes of many of his subjects.
But in April 2012 the king fell and broke his hip on a private hunting expedition to Botswana. Pictures of him were splashed across the papers, rifle in hand, standing proudly in front of a slain elephant. Juan Carlos, whose personal fortune remains a closely kept secret, was forced to apologise, but it did little to turn the tide of public opinion.
Juan Carlos’s famous popular touch seems to have deserted him at a time when many Spaniards are struggling to make ends meet during an economic crisis that has brought record levels of unemployment.
Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for newspapers to take aim at the royal family in such a fashion. Now barely a day goes past without some new revelation.
In October, an article in Vanity Fair shed light on the king’s complicated private life, carrying an embarrassing interview with Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a “close friend”, widely reported in the Spanish press to be his lover.
With opinion polls suggesting that the younger generation in Spain no longer venerate the king as their parents did, these latest emails will only add to the pressure felt by an increasingly troubled royal clan.
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