Spain’s Princess Cristina, sister of King Felipe VI, will stand trial on charges of tax fraud, becoming the country’s first royal in modern times to face prosecution.
The allegations stem from Cristina de Borbon’s alleged links to her husband’s business affairs between 2007 and 2008.
As we reported in June, a Spanish judge charged Cristina on tax fraud and money laundering charges. She and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, have been investigated since 2010.
At issue is around $8 million in public funds that went missing from the sports nonprofit Noos Institute, which Urdangarin chaired. Prosecutors allege Urdangarin embezzled the money through shell companies, at least one of which, Aizoon, was partially owned by Cristina. The charges against the princess stem from $2.6 million of the funds.
The couple denied any wrongdoing.
Reuters notes that Spanish law allows “the accused to escape trial if the victim of a crime – in this instance, the Spanish state – does not back the charges, as was the case here.” Cristina’s lawyer said the princess would appeal based on that.
“It’s a serious, surprising and exceptional situation,” Miquel Roca, the lawyer, said.
The news comes at a crucial time for the Spanish monarchy. The allegations against Cristina, who is sixth in line to the throne, came amid criticism directed at King Juan Carlos, her father, for an elephant-hunting trip he took to Africa in 2012 while Spain was mired in a recession and high unemployment. Juan Carlos abdicated earlier this year in favor of his son Felipe.
Felipe’s own approval ratings are sky high as he has tried to modernize the monarchy.