Spanish royal family in fresh embarrassment over role of blonde aristocrat
SPAIN’S royal family face fresh embarrassment today with the publication of details of the controversial elephant hunting trip taken by King Juan Carlos last month and the mysterious role of the blonde aristocrat who accompanied him.
Corinna zu Sayn Wittgenstein appears on the cover of the June edition of Spain’s Vanity Fair magazine alongside claims that she has been the King’s unofficial companion on numerous private trips abroad, including the ill-fated Botswana safari in April which caused outrage in Spain.
The twice-divorced Princess Corinna, 46, who was born in Germany and claims her title through her second husband, has reportedly fled Spain amid intense media speculation over the nature of her role within the Spanish monarchy.
“She has told me that the King is her friend and a great guy whom she admires. Nothing more, because if anything characterises her, it is discretion and loyalty,” said Princess Corinna’s first husband, Philip J Adkin, an American shipping magnate who confirmed he had also been a member of the hunting party in Botswana.
The hunting trip became public knowledge after the 74-year old monarch fractured his hip in a fall in camp and was rushed back to Madrid for surgery. News of the King’s luxurious lifestyle shooting endangered animals while ordinary Spaniards suffered deep economic strife was met with public outcry and led to calls for his abdication.
The episode has been marked by an end to the taboo on publishing royal secrets in a nation that has traditionally afforded the Royal family the utmost privacy and respect.
The unclear nature of the role of Princess Corinna will cast yet more scrutiny on Royal matters.
The King and Princess Corinna reportedly first crossed paths when she was organising shooting expeditions for Boss & Co, Britain’s oldest gunshop based in Mayfair where she worked until 2006, and were on the same safari together in Mozambique in 2004.
Several more hunting trips together followed over the years, as well as a trip to Saudi Arabia, and the pair have been photographed on the red carpet together several times.
Sources at the Royal Household insist she has no official role in relation to the King but friends spoken to by Vanity Fair talk of her being either his “financial adviser” and “organising everything from A-Z” on behalf of the King on his trips abroad.
Mr Adkin admitted that his ex-wife had gone into hiding since her connection with the King became public knowledge. She has instructed lawyers to take legal action after several European tabloids made claims about her private life.
The allegations are the latest development in what is turning out to be a difficult year for Spain’s Royal family.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia failed to mark their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this week fuelling speculation that their marriage was over.
The King’s son-in-law is accused of embezzling public funds and in February became the first Spanish royal in modern history to be questioned in court.
And Queen Sofia was forced to cancel her attendance at a lunch in Windsor Castle on Friday at the insistence of the Spanish government in a deepening row over Gibraltar.