María Cristina de Borbón-Dos Sicilias, queen consort from 1829 to 1833 by her marriage to Fernando VII and regent of the kingdom from 1833 to 1840, during part of the minority of her daughter Elizabeth II, happens to be one of the greatest corrupt of the history of Spain, at the level of someone as accredited thief as Francisco de Sandoval y Rojas, Duke of Lerma and valid of Felipe III, in the seventeenth century. From her institutional positions and outside of them, María Cristina did shady deals with the railways, with the mines, with salt and even with the slave trade, a huge business that at that time moved few consciences and a huge amount of money. A fortune of about 300 million reais was calculated for her. His great-great-great-grandson Juan Carlos I (there are four generations of Bourbons in between, those of Isabel II, Alfonso XII, Alfonso XIII and Don Juan) is also calculated a millionaire fortune, and in euros, and presumably from illegal activities. It is no longer only said by part of the press, a disgruntled ex-lover and anti-monarchical or republican politicians, but also the Office of the Supreme Court Prosecutor.
The letter of last February and now known by which the Supreme Prosecutor, Juan Ignacio Campos, asks the Swiss authorities in a rogatory commission for information on the accounts of Juan Carlos I in that country is devastating and represents a qualitative leap in the investigations judicial over the former head of state. For the first time, unless it is known, a high Spanish judicial instance lists in an official document the possible crimes of Juan Carlos I that are being investigated – “money laundering, against the public Treasury, bribery and influence peddling” – and affirms that the emeritus amassed his fortune by working as a commission agent on an international scale in business affairs, an activity legally incompatible with his status as head of state.
The response to the letter rogatory to Switzerland is being delayed, or at least its public knowledge, but it is to be hoped that the official reactions here will not be delayed. Especially in the Royal House, where on previous occasions the reaction has been very quick after knowing relevant advances in the investigations on Juan Carlos I. In March 2020, shortly after it was learned that Felipe VI appeared as the second beneficiary of the foundation ‘offshore’ that appears as the owner of the bank account where an alleged donation of 100 million dollars from Saudi Arabia was deposited to Juan Carlos I, the Royal House made two significant announcements: that it was withdrawing from the emeritus the annual public allocation that it received, something more than 200,000 euros at that time, and that Felipe renounced his father’s financial inheritance. At the beginning of August of that same 2020, a few days after Manuel García Castellón, judge of the National Court, activated an old case of the many of Villarejo and summoned Corinna Larsen, former lover of King Juan Carlos I and participant and / or witness to some of his dark economic affairs, the transfer abroad of the emeritus was announced, in order, according to the official note made public by himself, to help his son King Felipe VI to develop his function “from the tranquility and the calm ”. The decision had been taken by Juan Carlos reluctantly, the initiative came from Zarzuela.
Little tranquility and tranquility has had in these last 13 months King Felipe with King Juan Carlos. Even far away, in Abu Dhabi, the continuous trickle of information about the emeritus’ irregular economic activities has continued to undermine not only his reputation, which is already in tatters, but that of the Crown as a whole, even though the CIS does not want to openly ask citizens about it. The prosecutor’s letter, the reply from Switzerland, the three open proceedings – one for the collection of 65 million for alleged commissions of the AVE to Mecca, another for various donations and a third in case it hides funds in tax havens – predict that soon the drip can turn into a shower, and perhaps a cold drop, flooding and carry-over of materials. The Royal House should now move token and in a forceful way, it must build the levees as soon as possible.
The title of emeritus cannot be taken from Juan Carlos I because he does not officially have it. In a royal decree of June 13, 2014, a few days after it was known that he was going to abdicate and a few days before the effective abdication, the following was literally provided: “Don Juan Carlos de Borbón, father of King Felipe VI, will continue for life in the honorary use of the title of King, with treatment of Majesty and honors similar to those established for the Heir to the Crown, Prince or Princess of Asturias, in Royal Decree 684/2010, of May 20, by which the Regulation of Military Honors is approved “. The royal decree was issued “at the proposal of the Prime Minister”, then Mariano Rajoy, “and after deliberation by the Council of Ministers”, and has the signature of both Juan Carlos and Rajoy in the BOE. Taking away the title of King now should require the same steps.
“There was no industrial project in which the queen mother had no interests,” was written about María Cristina de Borbón-Dos Sicilias. In a letter that O’Donnell, then Prime Minister, wrote to Elizabeth II, he spoke of the “insatiable thirst for gold that her mother is devoured” and adds: “There have hardly been any lucrative contracts of good or bad law, onerous speculations, monopolizing privileges to which the name of the queen mother has not been associated “. After all, María Cristina earned so many popular antipathies that in 1854 she was expelled from Spain and the life pension granted by the Cortes was withdrawn.
Corruption and exile are two constants in the history of the Bourbons in Spain. To all of them, and there are already 11, they have had one or both things. To the current one, Felipe VI, for now only the first and indirectly, by his father. On himself, on the firewalls that he puts in, he depends largely not to see himself in the second one.