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Princess Cristina’s trial and what this means for the Spanish Royal Family

The sixth in line to the Spanish throne, Princess Cristina, was accused in 2014 of tax fraud alongside her husband, the Olympic medalist Inaki Urdangarin.  The princess, who denied any knowledge of the huge corruption case to the tune of $6.5 million, told magistrates today that she trusted her husband.  However, according to the magistrate who wrote an indictment against her in 2015, the princess had a “50% stake” in her husband’s business and profited “through silent collaboration.”

The case in which the princess is being tried goes back to 2007 and 2008 when the funds of the company co-owned by Cristina and her husband were used in part for personal expenses.  Her lawyers have been doing everything to spare the princess from the eight years’ imprisonment in which she faces.

This case is the latest in a series of cases to further tarnish the image of the royal family, even if the family has sought to distance itself.  Princess Cristina and her husband were excluded by the then king, Juan Carlos, from official royal events or duties in 2011 when the scandal broke.  A year later, the new king, King Felipe, signed a decree in which he stripped the couple of their title of Duke and Duchess of Palma de Mallorca.

Outside of the court yesterday, anti-monarchists–among them Catalan pro-independence parties–gathered and shouted at the couple as they made their way inside the court.  Because of anti-monarchists, only one solution is necessary, and that is to do away with the monarchy altogether.  However, King Felipe has appealed to the Catalan people for “respect, understanding and co-existence” and in his Christmas message last year, came back to the theme of “national cohesion.”

King Felipe has undertaken a lot of reforms since he accessed the throne in 2014.  For “a renewed monarchy for new times” and in a bid for more transparency, he cut his own salary by 20%, posted the salaries and the expenditures of all the royals online and banned family members from working for private companies.

“Public office must not be a means to profit or become rich,” he said in his first Christmas message when he accessed the throne.

The Spaniards paid him for his efforts.  Eighty-one percent of Spanish people like him, and even if the Cristina case has rocked the royal family, Spaniards are not so much concerned with doing away with the monarchy–for the moment.  Their concerns are rather for jobs – the country is struggling with a 20% unemployment rate – and the economy, which is quite uncertain.

In the meantime, Spaniards are following the trial of their sixth in line to the throne with some kind of incredulity.  It is after all the first time in modern Spain that a member of the royal family stands trial.

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