The grey Ford sedan pulled up at the courthouse at 9.45 a.m. A relaxed Infanta Cristina stepped out of the car, smiling at the 10 police officers who lined her path and nodding hello to the hundreds of journalists crammed behind them.
So began Cristina de Borbón y Grecia’s unprecedented court appearance as the first royal-born summoned in a criminal proceeding since the Spanish monarchy was restored in 1975. Cristina, seventh in line to the throne, was there to face six hours of questioning over her involvement in alleged money laundering and tax fraud.
The 48-year-old princess spent hours preparing for this day. Her goal was to leave the courtroom having cleared all suspicions of wrongdoing. Anything less could result in her facing criminal charges, up to six years in jail and steep fines. Four hundred miles away in Madrid, her parents, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, told journalists they were watching her every move, desperately wanting to bring a close to this tumultuous chapter in the Spanish royal family’s steady fall from grace.
The princess travelled to Palma de Mallorca for the day on an early morning commercial flight from Barcelona. Dressed in a simple black blazer and a white collared shirt, she was determined to show that her royal status conferred no judicial advantage.
But nothing was ordinary about this court appearance, which was conducted in private. More than 200 police officers – many of them flown in specially – stood guard, while 400 journalists on the ground elbowed each other to catch a glimpse of the action.
More than 200 protesters filled the streets, prevented by roadblocks from getting close to the courthouse entrance. Sporting shirts, scarves and even crowns in the colors of the old Spanish republic, they noisily chanted and whistled, waving homemade signs that read “Cristina, you owe me money” and “Franco or Borbón, neither were elected”.
“The monarchy think we’re idiots; that we should just support them no matter what they want to do,” said demonstrator Pau Ribal, 25. “Yes, they played an important role in our country’s history, but now it’s time for them to go.”… see more