1 Dec, 2022 @ 18:45
3 mins read

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos offered ex-lover ‘fake title’ of ‘Princess of Borbón’ if she married him

Corinna Prinzessin Von Sayn Wittgenstein (ger) Während Der Laureus World Sports Awards 2005
Corinna Prinzessin von Sayn-Wittgenstein GER während der Laureus World Sports Awards 2005

FORMER Spanish king Juan Carlos I offered his one-time lover Corinna Larsen the ‘entirely fake title’ of ‘Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Borbón’ if she married him. That’s according to the latest claims made by the German-Danish businesswoman in a podcast titled ‘Corinna and the King’. 

She also says that in 2015, ‘efforts were underfoot to really destroy me’. ‘It had moved into the possibility of a physical elimination or of pushing me into suicide,’ she says about a time when she had fallen out of favour with the king.

The revelations come in the sixth installment in the eight-part series. The episode, titled ‘Blood is thicker’, will be released on Monday but The Olive Press has had advanced access to its explosive content. 

In it, Larsen – who uses her married name of Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn – details how Juan Carlos pursued her after their relationship had already ended. ‘He took me to one of the drawing rooms and basically told me he loved me and he wanted to live happily ever after,’ she explains. ‘And then the king asked me to marry him.’

This was the second time that Juan Carlos had asked Larsen for her hand, despite his marriage to Queen Sofía – which survives to this day, despite them having reportedly lived separate lives for years. 

Larsen, however, explains how she rejected the proposal, which is when he ‘dangles a fancy title’ in front of her, according to the podcast narrator. ‘The whole thing was a fantasy,’ explains Larsen. ‘I didn’t take it seriously. I took it as a man who was getting quite desperate.’

The businesswoman also explains more about the notorious €65 million ‘gift’ that Juan Carlos is reported to have given her, to compensate for the disruption to her life when news of their five-year affair broke in the Spanish press in 2012. 

Algunas De Las Mujeres Con Las Que Se Relaciona A Juan Carlos I
King Juan Carlos and Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. Laureus Award 2006, Barcelona | usage worldwide

Larsen claims that after the king abdicated in 2014, she began to receive ‘requests’ to arrange flights, cars and hotel rooms for the self-styled emeritus king. One of these requests was, she explains, ‘quite forceful, and it was almost like they were talking to their dedicated travel agent. “Well, I now need private air charters. And I need hotel rooms and I need all of these travel logistics.”’

Juan Carlos, Larsen realises, ‘wanted access to the gift in some way or shape. He wanted to use some of this money’ for his travel arrangements.

At a lunch meeting, she claims she offered to return the gift to a Spanish bank account belonging to the king, which would have meant it was declared to the tax authorities. 

‘The king was just shaking his head violently and was muttering to himself, “No, no, no, it’s okay,”’ she says. ‘The entire operation was about hiding the true state of his wealth from the Spanish treasury and from the Spanish people.’

The €65 million is thought to have come from a kickback Juan Carlos is alleged to have received for his role in brokering a deal for a consortium of companies to build a high-speed rail link to Mecca, but this has never been proven despite several legal probes in Spain and Switzerland.

In 2020, Juan Carlos began living in self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi, after mounting allegations of financial irregularities forced him to flee. His son, King Felipe VI, reportedly wanted to get some distance between the Spanish royal family’s past and present. 

The release of the podcast comes as a civil lawsuit brought by Larsen against Juan Carlos for alleged harassment and spying after their relationship ended continues its way through the High Court in London. 

However, one of the podcast’s executive producers, Bradley Hope, said that the timing of the release was a coincidence, while representatives for Larsen have confirmed that the businesswoman was not involved with the creation of the podcast but did provide lengthy interviews for it.

The podcast is just the latest in a long line of embarrassing revelations for Juan Carlos. Earlier this year an HBO documentary titled Saving the King laid bare not just his dodgy financial dealings over the years but also his many affairs.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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