Why This Princess Is Back On Trial In Spain

Photo: Antony Jones/Julian Parker/Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/ Getty Images.
Update: Infanta Cristina returned to court Tuesday, after losing a bid to have her case thrown out. Her attorneys argued unsuccessfully that she should face a tax evasion fine, not criminal charges, the Associated Press reports. The princess is expected to testify during the trial, which is scheduled to run through February 26.

This story was originally published on January 11, 2016.

It was a tale seemingly made for the modern-day storybook — a popular princess falls in love with a professional athlete at the Olympics. A lavish wedding follows. But this real-life fairytale romance could end with the couple behind bars.

Infanta Cristina, the sister of the current King of Spain, and husband Iñaki Urdangarin head to trial this week, accused in a massive corruption and embezzlement scheme.

Prosecutors allege that an organization run by Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, embezzled about 5.6 million euros ($6.1 million) in public funds, according to the BBC. More than a dozen defendants are facing charges in connection to the alleged scheme.

The daughter of Spain's former King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia, whose full title is Cristina Federica Victoria Antonia de la Santísima Trinidad de Borbón y de Grecia, is charged with being an accomplice to tax fraud, the BBC reports. She faces up to eight years in prison if convicted. Charges for other defendants include more serious counts, such as money laundering and influence peddling.

Prior to her fall from grace, Cristina was known for her intelligence — she was the first female member of Spain's royal family to earn a college degree — and athleticism, the AFP reports. The now-50-year-old competed on Spain's Olympic sailing team in 1988, the AFP reported, years before she met her future husband at the 1996 games in Atlanta.

The princess' lawyer asked a judge to drop the charges against his client on Monday, saying that the accusations she faces have only been brought up in a complaint from an anti-corruption group, the BBC reported. Her lawyers have maintained that she is innocent throughout the investigation.

“When one person is in love with another, she trusts, has trusted and will carry on trusting that person come hell or high water,” Jesus Maria Silva said in January 2014, according to AFP.

The case has already had some serious repercussions for the princess — in addition to the public backlash to the charges, brother King Felipe VI stripped her of her title last year, according to the BBC. She remains sixth in line to the throne.
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