The ex-mistress of Spain’s former disgraced king Juan Carlos I, the Danish-German socialite and businesswoman, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (also known as Corinna Larsen), has labelled the former monarch as ‘unhinged’ in a new podcast series, claiming that he used to call her 10 times a day at her office using a fake name, and would ‘return home with bags full of cash, happy as a five year old’.
When Corinna asked about the origins of the money, she claims the monarch’s reply was ‘this is from my friend so-and-so etc’ and that it seemed ‘like it was a very common situation’. When she showed surprise, she claimed he would say, ‘Oh, you’re so dramatic, you don’t understand how Spain works’.
Described as ‘the unbelievable true story of a love affair that brought the Spanish royal family to its knees’, the podcast says that the affair’s unraveling opened ‘a window into a dangerous world of greed, corruption, and crime’.
Having launched this week, the podcast series – created by journalist Bradley Hope and Tom Wright for Project Brazen – says that it will cover ‘international espionage and conspiracy, scandal, elephant hunting, and unstoppable lust’. By coincidence, it is also likely to coincide with Corinna’s High Court case in London against Juan Carlos for alleged harassment and spying [see below]. The podcast is available here on Spotify and other platforms.
In the podcast series Corinna describes Juan Carlos as ‘funny and quite persistent’, albeit in an amusing way, and ‘one of the biggest seducers in the royal world’. She explains her feeling that she felt more of a wife than a mistress, even after discovering that he had had multiple affairs.
In the pending court case in London, Corinna, 58, is seeking personal injury damages from the 84-year-old former monarch, who was king from 1975 until his abdication in 2014.
The British resident has accused Juan Carlos, who now lives in the United Arab Emirates, of spying on and harassing her after their relationship soured in 2012.
She filed a harassment suit in London in 2020, alleging he pressured her to return gifts worth €65 million, including works of art and jewellery.
The background to the claim stems from when Juan Carlos met Corinna in Africa in 2004, when she was involved in organising safaris. The relationship developed romantically, and they remained lovers until 2009, remaining close friends for a while afterwards.
Their relationship only became public after an incident in Botswana in 2012, when Juan Carlos broke a hip in an elephant-hunting trip with Corinna. Two years later, dogged by the scandals and health problems, Juan Carlos abdicated at the age of 76 in favour of his son Felipe VI, who has now distanced himself from his father. Juan Carlos went into self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates in 2020. They only recently coincided sitting in the same row at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London.
In 2020, after Juan Carlos and Corinna both became subjects of judicial investigations for opaque financial dealings, including assets kept in tax havens, she sued the former monarch, accusing him of allegedly orchestrating threats and ordering unlawful covert and overt surveillance starting in 2012, after she declined to rekindle the relationship.
In London on Tuesday, Juan Carlos’s lawyers resumed the pre-court battle over the harassment claims brought by his former lover.
Juan Carlos, listed in court under his full name Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria De Borbón y Borbón, has not appeared at hearings so far and strenuously denies any wrongdoing.
In March, the High Court in London rejected the former monarch’s claim that English courts had no jurisdiction to hear the case because he has state immunity as a royal.
Judge Matthew Nicklin said that ‘whatever special status the defendant retained under the law and constitution of Spain, he was no longer a sovereign or head of state so as to entitle him to personal immunity’.
The former king’s lawyers had previously appealed and won permission for a legal challenge concerning the period when Juan Carlos was on the throne.
This was set to be examined by three judges at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, with a ruling expected in a few weeks, after which the harassment lawsuit will continue.
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