The Crazy Private Life of Juan Carlos, Spain’s Royal Horndog
As the former Spanish King faces a paternity suit, we look back at a lifetime of womanizing, including an alleged tryst with Princess Diana.
Spain’s supreme court recently decided that it would, after all, hear a paternity suit from Ingrid Sartiau, a Belgian woman who claims the former king of Spain, Juan Carlos, who stepped down last year in favor of his son Felipe, is her father.
The decision to examine the controversial case has refocused attention in Spain on the philandering ways of the former king, even if the court rejected a separate paternity claim filed by a waiter, Alberto Solà Jiménez, who claimed he had been given up for adoption after an affair between Juan Carlos and a woman from a wealthy family. His claim was dismissed, even though DNA tests showed there was a 91 percent chance that Jiménez and Ingrid Sartiau had one parent in common.
When Juan Carlos abdicated last year it was in the hope that a new king could help draw a line under a deluge of different scandals that have threatened to overwhelm the institution of monarchy in Spain.
But a recent book by Spanish journalist and writer Pilar Eyre, The Solitude of The Queen, alleges that the former King has had in excess of 1500 lovers.
If that’s a bit of an exaggeration—even Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall only claims to have slept with 1,000 women—there is no denying that the king has a well-earned reputation as a serial philanderer in Spain.
“He is an incorrigible womanizer,” one Spanish society gossip told me. “He adores the chase. But it’s not a case of jumping on anything that moves. He’s very discerning. They have to be beautiful, of course, but he also likes his women to be of a similar social status to himself as they are less likely to tell tales.”
Unsurprisingly, the Daily Beast understands, Sofia and Juan Carlos have slept in separate apartments at opposite ends of La Zarazuela Palace for many years now.
Fortunately, for the charming King, however, Sofia still loves him and is more interested in standing by than bringing down her man.
Although the source concedes Carlos has slowed down “a bit” in recent years (he now walks with a cane), Eyre alleges in her book that the king regularly receives vitamin injections and other anti-ageing treatments to boost his libido.
Previously the rumors were only known in the court circles from which many of his lovers came (Carlos is such a prolific romancer that Sofia can’t trust her Spanish female friends because she can never be sure they have not slept with her husband, Eyre claims).
But now, thanks in large part to Eyre’s book, which identifies secretaries, singers, interior decorators and TV stars among his conquests and has been widely excerpted in the Spanish press, the general public are privy to many of the sensational details of Juan Carlos’s love life as well as well.
Here’s a sample of some of the women he is alleged to have had affairs with.
The claim that Juan Carlos had a fling with the Queen of Hearts was first made by Royal writer Lady Colin Campbell in her 1992 bio of Diana (that book also broke the story of Diana’s bulimia, a story which was much rubbished by the pro-Charles lobby until Andrew Morton’s book, which had Diana’s co-operation, appeared later the same year).
The claim of a Di-JC hook-up caused shockwaves in Europe and beyond—the New York Daily News even put the headline “The King and Di” on their front page.
The romance allegedly began when Diana, Charles and their kids holidayed in Majorca with the Spanish royal family in the Eighties. After her first trip to Majorca in 1986, Eyre alleges Diana told her bodyguard Ken Wharfe that Juan Carlos had taken a shine to her. Lady Colin Campbell also claimed the romance began in 1986, while on a cruise with their spouses, and that the holiday romance was rekindled the following year.
Lady Colin has always maintained that the affair was just a bit of fun on Juan Carlos’s side, but that for Diana it was a way of getting at Charles as much as anything else. Charles was apparently unperturbed.
In the current paternity case, Ingrid Sartiau, a Belgian housewife, says her mother, Liliane Sartiau, first met King Juan Carlos in 1956 in France (before he married in 1962) and again in 1966 in Luxembourg, where she was conceived.
“My mum told me who my father was while we were watching the TV together,” Ingrid Sartiau said in a 2012 interview. “An image of him flashed up on the television and she said, ‘That man’s your father.’”
However, between Spain’s macho culture when it comes to womanizing, the residual affection Spaniards feel to Juan Carlos for facing down a coup attempt in 1983, and, above all, article 56.3 of the Spanish constitution which baldly states: “The person of the King is inviolable, and not subject to responsibility,” there was little Sartiau could do to progress her claim.
But in an effort to draw a line under a welter of financial and other scandals, including the notorious elephant-hunting trip, Juan Carlos stepped down in June 2014 in favor of his son Felipe, citing ill health, and lost his total legal immunity.
Sartiau made contact with a man who claims Juan Carlos is his father, café waiter Alberto Solà Jiménez, and the two underwent DNA tests in June 2012 that showed there was a 91 percent chance they had one parent in common.
The court, however, dismissed Solà Jiménez’s case, saying there was not enough evidence to proceed with his claim.
The Actress in Toledo
Juan Carlos married Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark in 1972, but Eyre claims the marriage effectively ended in 1976 when Sofia took their children for a surprise visit to her husband at a friend’s country house near Toledo.
She arrived to find the king’s favorite pet dog roaming in the drive and the home-owner frantically barring her route. Sofia burst in and caught her husband with his lover, a well-known Spanish actress.
The beautiful showgirl and actress Sandra Mozarowsky was widely rumored to be a girlfriend of the king, and when she died suddenly after a fall from her apartment building, the death was ruled suicide.
Andrew Morton wrote in his book, Ladies of Spain, “There were sinister suggestions [that] her apparent suicide—all that is known for a fact is that she was watering her plants when she fell off her apartment balcony—was orchestrated by those who feared she might put the Royal House in a difficult position.”
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein
The Spanish people were understandably dismayed when their monarch went off on an elephant-shooting holiday in Botswana.
Although, as a nation, they have a poor record on animal cruelty, even the Spaniards were not particularly pleased their King should be out shooting tuskers, not least because of the expense involved when unemployment was approaching 25%.
The country’s largest paper, El País, calculated that a luxury safari like the King’s would have cost nearly $60,000 (including $15,000 for the permit and fees to kill an elephant).
The holiday only came to light because the King broke his hip while on the bloodthirsty safari and was flown back to Spain by private plane for surgery, accompanied by his alleged mistress at the time, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.
The British social diarist Taki memorably described Wittgenstein as “an average girl from southern Germany who became a princess by marrying the black sheep of a noble German family.”
The black sheep in question was Casimir Sayn-Wittgenstein, who, after his separation from Corinna, dated New York socialite Tinsley Mortimer.
Within weeks of the monarch’s apology for the Botswana safari, Spanish Vanity Fair caused a sensation by putting Sayn-Wittgenstein on the June 2012 cover as “The Mysterious Friend of the King.”
Lourdes Garzon, the editor in chief, told Bob Colacello of the US edition, “Everyone more or less knew about this woman, but it was impossible to find anything written about her. Because to write about the monarchy was the biggest taboo in our society.”
Corinna denies an affair and denied any “hanky-panky’ on the shooting trip telling Colacello, “I was in my tent with my son. My ex-husband was in his tent, and the King was in his tent. There was no hanky-panky.”