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Cristinagate: a brother enthroned, a sister disgraced, a monarchy disenchanted

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Cristinagate: a brother enthroned, a sister disgraced, a monarchy disenchanted


The old reign has made way for a new Spanish monarch but the corruption scandal implicating the younger daughter of King Juan Carlos, and his son-in-law, remains.

Cristina was not airbrushed out of the father-to-son handover ceremonies. She just wasn’t there. In fact, she hasn’t had any royal engagements for two and a half years.

King Felipe made an impassioned speech in parliament, promising openness and moral rectitude; his mother and elder sister, Elena, had ringside seats, but Cristina wasn’t invited.

The king also drove home the theme of solidarity with ordinary Spaniards in a difficult economic time.

Cristina used to be looked up to as a modern princess. She was the first woman in the Spanish royal family to go to university (Madrid and New York) — got degrees in political science and international relations.

She was also admired for her dream marriage to Olympic medal winning handballer Iñaki Urdangarín. She bore them four children.

Her Royal Highness Princess Infanta Doña Cristina is also a working woman, director of the social services Foundation for La Caixa Bank in Geneva, and the Honourable President of the Spanish Commission for UNESCO.

Then, in December 2011, the mirror cracked. Her husband was placed under formal investigation by a court judge in Mallorca.

It was over six million euros of public money that appeared to have been embezzled.

He ran the Nóos Institute charity from 2003-2006, a consultancy for organising sport and tourism conferences.

She was a member of the board.

They co-owned another company.

Urdangarín kept telling the judge his wife had no hand in any foundation operations.

Both denied any wrongdoing, but the judge wouldn’t let go.

Eventually he came for her. Spain was shocked. She was questioned in court.

Cristina is still under official investigation.

Here are a couple of typical opinions from people on the streets of Madrid:

“That’s normal. Justice should be equal for everyone, so I think it’s good.”

“If she made a mistake, she’ll have to pay for it, like anyone else.”

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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