Mistress of Spain's ex-king says €65M 'gave her wasn't unreasonable'

Mistress of Spain’s scandal-hit King Juan Carlos I insists €65MILLION ‘he gifted her was not unreasonable’ – and claims he is the ‘architect of his own problems and his exile is the ultimate defeat’

  • Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 56, appeared in first television interview today 
  • Danish-born businesswoman had affair with Spanish royal from 2004-2009 
  • She claimed ex-King Juan Carlos transferred €65million to her as a ‘gift’ in 2012

The former mistress of Spain’s King Juan Carlos I has insisted the €65million he gave her ‘was not an unreasonable’ gift – after claiming the scandal-hit monarch was the ‘architect of his own problems’.

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 56, had an affair with Juan Carlos, 82, from 2004 to 2009, and faced backlash following the revelation that he had given her the eye-watering sum of money. 

Appearing in her first televised interview on True Royalty’s The Rise and Fall of The Spanish King, which airs today, she claims the ex-monarch sent her the ‘generous gift’ because he was ‘very adamant about taking care of her’. 

The former king, who abdicated in 2014, is under investigation by Spain’s supreme court over corruption allegations which centre on a $100million payment by the late king of Saudi Arabia.

In August, Juan Carlos announced he was leaving Spain and it has recently emerged that he is staying in Abu Dhabi – and Corinna suggests ‘his exile is the ultimate defeat’.

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Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (pictured), 56, appears in her first televised interview for True Royalty’s The Rise and Fall of The Spanish King, airing today

Corinna (pictured right in 2006) had an affair with ex-King Juan Carlos (pictured left), 82, from 2004 to 2009

Corinna was implicated in the scandal surrounding Juan Carlos’ rule following the revelation that he had given her a gift of €65million.

Speaking about the money on the programme, the ex-monarch’s former flame said: ‘When the gift finally arrived I was obviously surprised because it was a very generous sum. 

‘However in the context of a net worth that’s estimated by Forbes to be around 1.8 billion it is not an unreasonable amount of money.’

She added: ‘[Juan Carlos] was very adamant that he always wanted to take care of me. He was also very worried that his family would not respect his wishes had he put it in a will… it would be just ripped apart.’

A Swiss inquiry is currently probing Corinna for alleged money laundering over the €65million payment Juan Carlos made to her in 2012.  

Swiss prosecutors are currently examining Corinna (pictured) under suspicion of money laundering – but Corinna has claimed the money was simply a way of ‘taking care of her’

‘People think I’m some sort of a criminal and I’ve done nothing wrong,’ she insisted on the programme. ‘I’m very confident that the Swiss proceedings will close and they will end positively for me.’

Corinna also chatted about the former monarch’s rise and fall, suggesting he was responsible for where he finds himself now. 

He is, in many ways, the architect of his own problems’, she said. ‘In part he’s responsible for where he finds himself now.

‘However, for someone who brought the monarchy back from exile and who created a democracy post the Franco regime, it must be the ultimate defeat to now find himself in exile.’

Spanish King Juan Carlos greets Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Barcelona on 22 May 2006

Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy, but recent scandals have tarnished his image.

The former King married Queen Sofia, now 81, in 1962 – and rumours of various affairs had been rife for 40 years by the time he met Danish-born businesswoman Corinna in 2004. 

‘I think he saw in me a different kind of woman than he had come across in the past,’ she said of her former flame. ‘I think it fascinated him I treated him like a normal man rather than a symbol.’    

In 2012, their romance was sensationally discovered when he fractured his hip and had to be rushed back home from an elephant hunting trip in Botswana where Corinna – still a close friend – had accompanied him.  

Who is Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos I?

Juan Carlos I reigned as king of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014

Juan Carlos I reigned as king of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014. 

He was a popular monarch for most of his four-decade reign who played a critical role in the country’s transition to democracy. 

He is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent declaration of the Second Spanish Republic. 

Juan Carlos was born in Rome, Italy, on January 5, 1938, during his family’s exile. He came to Spain in 1947 to continue his studies and entered the Zaragoza military academy. 

He completed his tertiary education at the University of Madrid and went on to marry Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark in Athens in 1962. 

They went on to have two daughters and a son together: Elena, Cristina, and Felipe.  

Juan Carlos first began periodically acting as Spain’s head of state in the summer of 1974. Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in November the following year and Juan Carlos became king on 22 November 1975, two days after Franco’s death.

Juan Carlos was hailed for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy and reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime. 

However the King and the monarchy’s reputation began to suffer after controversies surrounding his family arose. 

In April 2012, Juan Carlos faced criticism for an elephant-hunting trip in Botswana during a time of financial crisis in Spain. 

The public found out about the trip only after the King injured himself and a special aircraft was sent to bring him home.

Pictured left to right: Then-Princess Letizia , Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos pose for a photo in 2009

Spanish officials stated that the expenses of the trip were not paid by taxpayers or by the palace, but by Syrian businessman Mohamed Eyad Kayali.

Corruption scandals circling the royal family closed in when his daughter, Princess Cristina, was accused of tax fraud in 2014 and became the first Spanish royal to stand trial. She was later acquitted, but her husband was sentenced. 

He abdicated in favour of his son, Prince Felipe, in 2014, and last year, Juan Carlos announced his decision to withdraw from public life, ending his remaining institutional functions and appearances from June 2019. Last August, he successfully underwent heart surgery in Madrid.  

In June 2020, Spain’s supreme court prosecutor opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was granted to a group of Spanish companies in 2011.

King Felipe renounced his own inheritance and stripped his father of his palace allowance in March after reports the latter received $100 million from the late Saudi king and gave millions to a businesswoman.  

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