Former Spanish King Juan Carlos, 82, announced on Monday that he would leave his homeland and go into exile abroad. The former Spanish ruler has long been the target of corruption allegations.
The corruption scandal is linked to an agreement reached by Spanish companies to build a railway between the holy cities of Saudi Arabia, Mecca and Medina.
Juan Carlos is reported to have received a payment of $ 100 million (€ 64.8 million) from the then King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah, in 2008, which was channeled through a Panama-registered foundation into a Swiss bank account.
Former Spanish King Juan Carlos announced on Monday that he was going into exile.
Photo: Prensa Internacional / Zuma / MVPhotos
In addition to Juan Carlos at the center of the uproar is his former mistress, Corinna Larsen of Germany, the whole named Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, who made heavy accusations against the king in 2018 with a leaked audio tape.
Read more: Obscure millions and ex-mistress revelations - this is about the tangle of corruption of exiled Juan Carlos
According to Spanish media, the roads of Juan Carlos and Larsen met in 2004 when the king was 66 years old and Larsen was 39 years old.
El Espectador describes 55-year-old Larsen as a business woman with close ties to the courts of Monaco and Spain, among others. Married to the German prince, Larsen had created a successful career, especially on the tourism side, and organized lavish hunting trips to Africa for the rich.
Through this he also met the then King of Spain, Juan Carlos.
Allegedly, the relationship between the king and the business woman Corinna Larsen was a public secret of the court for a long time, and Larsen traveled with Juan Carlos around the world.
Photo: Kai-Uwe Knoth / Zuma / MVPhotos
Larsen is described as a worldly, charming and intelligent beauty who speaks five languages. King Juan Carlos was immediately indelibly impressed by Larsen.
Employees of the king’s home, Zarzuela’s palace, have told the Spanish media that Juan Carlos was like a “delighted little boy” with Corinna Larsen.
El País describes the King and Larsen as holding secret meetings at the El Pardo Palace near the Palace of Zarzuela. The palace staff called the mistress code-named Ingrid every time she arrived to meet Juan Carlos.
A trip to Botswana revealed the relationship
The close relationship between the king and the businesswoman came to light in April 2012 when the king broke his hip on a terrible hunting trip in Botswana. The Spaniards were appalled when it became clear that Juan Carlos had cooled down along the savannah into the intoxication of the yacht, at a time when the Spanish economy was in crisis and the king was required to act.
Corinna Larsen was on a royal hunting trip and soon the Italian La Stampa declared that Larsen was in fact Juan Carlos' mistress.
- There are two queens in Spain: Sofia, with whom the king married in 1962, and Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, the king's mistress, described the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Soon, the Spanish Vanity Fair magazine shocked by putting “the king’s mysterious girlfriend” Corinna Larsen in the June issue of her cover.
- Everyone knew somewhat who this woman is, but it was impossible to find any information about her. Writing about the monarchy was the biggest taboo in Spain, Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Lourdes Garzon has justified the decision.
King Juan Carlos and Corinna Larsen photographed at a red carpet event in Barcelona in 2006.
Photo: Schroewig / Maelsa / DPA / Zuma / MVPhotos
Court insiders were told at the time that rumors had been circulating about the relationship for years. The eyewitnesses had noticed that Corinna Larsen visited the same nail salon as the women of the court.
- Corinna went to the manicure in the same place in Madrid as the other women traveling with the king. It was then that the question began as to who this woman is, TV star Boris Izaguirre has recalled Vanity Fair.
The commotion around the king swelled further as Hovi announced that Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia would not be celebrating their wedding day.
The union of Juan Carlos and Sofia has endured ups and downs.
Photo: Estela Castro
Corinna Larsen, for her part, gave an interview to El Mundo in 2013, in which she said she had originally met the king on a hunting trip to Britain. The king had asked him to help with the honeymoon arrangements for his son Felipe and his wife Letizia.
In an interview with El Mundo, Larsen said he and Juan Carlos were "close friends."
At the same time, the businesswoman confirmed the rumors circulating in the Spanish media that she had her keys in politics and, for example, had helped Juan Carlos establish business relationships.
That same year, Larsen told Vanity Fair that the uproar over his close relationship with the king had not changed anything between them. Hello! In an interview with the magazine, she mourned the fact that in Spain a picture of her had been painted as a seductress to confuse the king's head.
- Because I am a blonde German woman, so people think I manipulative him, Larsen said.
In 2014, Juan Carlos, plagued by riots, announced that he would relinquish the crown and hand over the throne to his son Felipe.
El Mundo and El País reported that Juan Carlos, who hunted elephants, had traveled to Botswana for almost € 60,000. In 2014, Juan Carlos relinquished the crown and his son Felipe came to power.
Photo: Philippe Desmazes / AFP / Magazine photo
The ex-king has long been said to have been an important part of the lives of Larsen and his children. For example, the king is believed to have paid Larsen’s son’s tuition fees at a Swiss private school and pampered the boy with expensive gifts.
- He played with the boy every week, Vanity Fair has been told.
“Revenge of Corinna”
Corinna Larsen, at the center of a corruption scandal, has openly told the international media about her relationship with Juan Carlos and about the king’s suspected obscure transactions. In March 2020, the BBC reported that Larsen was assisting the authorities in investigating corruption.
According to the BBC, Larsen has told the court that his family has been followed and persecuted by the Spanish secret service since his romantic relationship with Juan Carlos ended in 2014.
- After the trip to Botswana, it was clear that I was seen as a threat to the Spanish royal family, he has said.
Corinna Larsen is at home in social circles. Photo from 2017 when he attended a social circle event in London.
Photo: Dave Benett / Getty Images
In the Spanish media, Larsen is believed to be helping the authorities because he wants revenge on Juan Carlos.
According to Spanish media, Juan Carlos has been believed to have promised Larsen that one day he would resign from Queen Sofia and begin living together with Larsen. Allegedly, Larsen would have been tired of waiting and ended the relationship after 10 years.
How is Queen Sofia?
Queen Sofia has stood by her husband from one scandal to another, but according to Spanish media, it is unclear what the relationship between her and Juan Carlos really is.
El País describes the feminine secret of Juan Carlos and Larsen as having been a public secret in the court for years and also as Queen Sofia was aware of her husband’s feminine adventures.
Unlike Juan Carlos, Sofia enjoys great popularity in Spain.
Photo: Jose Luis Roca / AFP / Lehtikuva
According to press reports, Juan Carlos is now staying in the Dominican Republic, but according to El País, Queen Sofia is not going to follow her husband.
The magazine says Sofia plans to stay in her home country with her son King Felipe and her grandchildren and focus on her charity work. According to press reports, the Queen will continue to live in Zarzuela's palace, which was her and Juan Carlos' common home.
According to El País sources, the distance between Sofia and Juan Carlos has been distant for years, and the couple has not slept in the same bedroom, for example. The couple has been seen in recent years together, mostly at official court representation events.