The decision of King Felipe of Spain to take away the title of Duchess of Palma from his sister, Infanta Cristina, was generally well received when it was announced on Thursday night. However, now it has become the source of yet more issues for the beleaguered royal house as disagreement has broken out between the royal siblings about how the Infanta lost her title.
A brief and unexpected announcement was made by the Royal Household late on Thursday to say that King Felipe VI had revoked his sister’s ducal title. Within twenty four hours Cristina had hit back, saying that she had sent a letter to her brother, dated June 1st , renouncing her title voluntarily. The Royal Household says that letter arrived by email on June 11th, the day the announcement was made, and after the king had taken his decision and signed the decree.
The end result is the same – Cristina is now no longer the Duchess of Palma although she retains her title of Infanta of Spain and she is still sixth in line to the throne. The title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca was given to Cristina by her father, Juan Carlos, when she married Inaki Urdagarin in October 1997. After the announcement that she had been stripped of the title, the Royal Household confirmed that the decision over whether she retained rights to succeed to the throne remained with her.
On his accession last year, King Felipe said he wanted a more open and transparent monarchy. The Spanish Royal Family was also altered with membership confined to the new monarch, his wife Queen Letizia, their two daughters and the former monarch, King Juan Carlos, and his wife, Queen Sofia. Felipe’s sisters, Cristina and Elena, are no longer members of the official Royal Family.
The Infanta Cristina will attend court at some point in the near future on charges of tax fraud. Her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, also faces charges linked to financial irregularities. Both deny the charges against them, but if they are found guilty they could both go to prison.
This latest row has exposed the personal divisions between the new king and his sister over the controversy that has surrounded her for the last four years. In recent days the two had been seen together in public when both attended a memorial service for Prince Kardam of Bulgaria in Madrid. It was the first time they two had been seen at the same event for many months.
Yet this latest turn of events shows that things are far from settled between them. As King Felipe prepares to mark a year since his accession he has enjoyed some successes with his own popularity ratings increasing. He and Queen Letizia have enjoyed a high profile and largely positive role on the international stage in the twelve months he has been king. However things are still difficult for Spain’s royals and this week’s occurrences show that there are problems that still need to be resolved for the House of Borbon.
Photo credit: Martin Schulz via Flickr