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European RoyalsSpain

Infanta Cristina becomes first member of Spanish Royal Family to be put on trial

It will be a significant day in Spanish history tomorrow when King Felipe’s sister Infanta Cristina will become the first member of the country’s Royal Family to be put on trial. The Spanish Princess faces charges of alleged tax fraud and involvement in an embezzlement scam along with her husband, Inaki Urdangarin.

Mr Urdangarin has been accused of using Noos Institute, a non-profit organisation of which Infanta Cristina is a board member, and associated companies for money laundering and embezzling public funds amounted to around €5.6 million (£4.1 million). The Princess and her husband will be tried in Palma, Majorca, where the public prosecutors want a jail sentence of eight years.

Infanta Cristina is the second child and youngest daughter of the former King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. In 1997, she married Inaki Urdangarin, a handball player who she had met when he represented Spain at the Olympic Games the previous year. Upon their marriage, the couple were granted the titles of the Duke and Duchess of Palma. They have four children together, and currently reside in Geneva out of the public eye.

There are 16 other defendants in this case, including Diego Torres, Mr Urdangarin’s partner at Noos Insitute, and Jaume Matas, a former government minister. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty of tax fraud in the financial years 2007 and 2008, and the case was launched in 2010 as part of an investigation of corruption among Spain’s elite, including the Royal Family.

When it was announced that Infanta Cristina was to be tried in court, her father, the then Kin Juan Carlos, refrained from giving her special treatment, saying: “Justice is the same for everyone.” Following his abdication in 2014, his son, King Felipe, tried to distance the Royal Family from the scandal, and stripped Infanta Cristina and her husband of their titles of the Duke and Duchess of Palma.

However, the Princess has refused to renounce her right to the Spanish succession, and remains sixth in line after her nieces, nephews, and older sister Elena. She is reportedly very upset at her brother’s treatment of her, and was quoted as saying “It is very hard to be abandoned by your family,” in the online publication El Espanol.

Since the Princess is only accused by a private prosecution and not by the state, her defence team will ask that she be acquitted. Her lawyer, Miquel Roca, said that he was “totally confident” that Infanta Cristina would not have to go through will the trial. After Monday’s proceedings, the court will have four weeks to decide whether the case goes ahead.