2012 was the annus horribilis for the Spanish royal family. For many years, the media remained silent about the private business and personal affairs of King Juan Carlos I and his family so as not to damage the process of restoration of democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco. But in 2012, the shady business of Inaki Urdangarin, Juan Carlos’ son-in-law, and the king’s relationship with the German Princess Corinna zu Wittgenstein came to light and it will never be lived down.
While the country was suffering a severe economic crisis and being forced to accept painful cuts in health and education, the King traveled to Botswana to hunt elephants in the company of a woman who was not his wife. The Spaniards only found out because he fell down and had to return to Spain urgently to receive medical attention. But it was at that point that the indignation of the Spanish people has crossed the barrier of censorship.
These are the circumstances that Lady Diana‘s biographer, British writer Andrew Morton, used to write the book, “Ladies of Spain,” which portrays the women of the Spanish royal family. Four women whose lives revolve around duty, love and honor.
Ladies of Spain: The women of the Spanish royal family
Princess Letizia. Spanish society was shocked when it was revealed that Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish crown, was engaged to this TV news presenter. A divorced woman, daughter of divorcees and the granddaughter of a taxi driver, Letizia studied journalism at a public university and appeared topless in the art of compact disc for Mexican band Mana (although the artist who portrayed her is said to have ensured that she didn’t posed nude). According to Morton, “Letizia’s past was much more complicated than Eva Sannum’s, who was the Virgin Mary compared to her.” Norwegian model Sannum was the previous girlfriend of Felipe, who was forced to dump her because of her past as a lingerie model. His first girlfriend, aristocrat Isabel Sartorius, was also considered inappropriate for the role of Queen for being the daughter of divorced parents. Felipe and Letizia were married in 2004 and are parents of two daughters, Leonor and Sofia. Spanish society has not rejected the princess for her past life, and, in fact, many consider her a symbol of the XXIst Century woman. But her dominant, strong character, her alleged anorexia and excessive passion for cosmetic surgery have turned her into an unpopular figure.
Queen Sofia. The Queen of Spain, born in Greece, is a Royal of the old school. “Sofia was educated in royalty in an era when women put up with and shut up, had an independent life and turned a blind eye to her husband’s behavior,” says Morton. According to the book, these days Sofia keeps smiling in public, but is privately shedding many tears. “She and the King don´t speak to each other. They pretend to speak at public events. She cried a lot because of the King’s mistresses. She was so in love with him.” However, Sofia is firm in her support for her husband. What is certain is that neither the Spaniards nor Sofia herself could have imagined that one day they would see the alleged mistress of the King, Princess Corinna, on the cover of the very monarchical magazine ¡Hola! talking about her pro-government negotiations and defining King Juan Carlos as her “dear friend.”