Spain's Princess Cristina has been summoned to testify as a suspect in a corruption case, a judicial source said yesterday, dealing a blow to the prestige of the royal family including her father King Juan Carlos.
It is the first time a member of the Spanish royal family has been called to appear in a court of law on suspicion of wrongdoing.
The 47-year-old princess must testify on suspicion of influence peddling on April 27 at the court in Palma, Mallorca, the judicial source said. The Royal Palace refused to comment. The case, which was opened at the end of 2011, centres on allegations of embezzlement and influence peddling against her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, and his former business partner, Diego Torres.
They are alleged to have siphoned off cash paid by regional governments to stage sports and tourism events to the non-profit Noos Institute, which Urdangarin chaired from 2004 to 2006.
Until now, the princess had avoided being dragged formally into the case, although accusations had been mounting up against her. The summons by Judge Jose Castro will be seen as extremely damaging to the royal family, already slumping in the popularity polls.
The 75-year-old Spanish king is credited with steering Spain to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
But his standing had already taken a hit over the corruption probe implicating his son-in-law and over a luxury elephant-hunting safari he took in Africa last year at a time of record unemployment in Spain. An opinion poll last month showed 57 per cent of Spaniards felt the king should abdicate in favour of his son Prince Felipe, 45, once Juan Carlos recovers from surgery he had last month for herniated discs in his lower spine.
Urdangarin, who has not been charged with any crime and maintains his innocence, sought to distance his wife from his business dealings when he was questioned in court in February.
But his former business partner then provided the judge with e-mails that were leaked to the press appearing to show that Urdangarin regularly consulted his wife - a member of the board of the Noos Institute - about the body's affairs.