Manu Fernandez / File / AP

Spain's Princess Cristina to stand trial over tax fraud

First time member of Spanish royal family to face prosecution after Cristina implicated in husband's charity scandal

Cristina de Borbon, sister of Spain's King Felipe VI, will stand trial on charges of tax fraud, the first Spanish royal to face prosecution in court.

Her father Juan Carlos abdicated in June after a series of scandals including an investigation into the affairs of Princess Cristina's husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, who is accused of embezzling public funds.

Princess Cristina, 49, and Urdangarin are among 17 people ordered to stand trial in the case involving his Noos Foundation charity, the High Court of the Balearic Islands said on Monday.

Urdangarin is being investigated on suspicion of embezzling at least $7.4 million in public funds and using political connections to secure government contracts through the Noos Foundation — which he was in charge of from 2004-2006. The princess was on the Noos board when her husband headed the charity, implicating her in the tax crimes of her husband.

Urdangarin has been charged with breach of legal duty, embezzling public funds, fraud, influence-peddling and money-laundering. The princess is accused of two tax crimes. Cristina and Urdangarin have both denied any wrongdoing.

They now have 20 days to deposit the money, according to a written court ruling, or face having assets seized.

King Felipe is riding high in opinion polls and has tried to modernize the monarchy, including taking rights and duties away from his two sisters, who are no longer formally part of the royal family. Cristina remains sixth in line to the throne.

Former king Juan Carlos abdicated earlier this year in hopes that the crowning of a new leader, Felipe, would help pull the royal family out of a political crisis. Their popularity had fallen to the lowest levels since the end of right-wing dictator Francisco Franco's rule in 1975, German news website Deutsche Welle (DW) reported

Though Juan Carlos' democracy building had earned him wide popularity, citizens began scrutinizing the way the royal family managed their wealth after the recent financial crisis.

When it was revealed that the king had taken a lavish elephant hunting holiday in Botswana as the Spanish economy plummeted in 2012, protests broke out. Demonstrations renewed this year after his abdication, with protesters calling for a referendum to bring an end to the monarchy itself.

Because of the series of scandals, the family that was once viewed as "glamorous yet down-to-earth" is now seen as part of the global elite on par with bankers and politicians, DW reported.

Al Jazeera and wire services

Related News

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter


Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter