MADRID — The website of the Spanish royal family features pictures of the king, Juan Carlos I, in a blue sash, his bejeweled wife, Queen Sofia, and the couple’s three glamorous children. But most of the photographs of the dashing Duke of Palma, the king’s son-in-law, were scrubbed from the site last month.
The duke’s official biography was also banished from the site. And for more than a year, the royal family has banned the duke, a former Olympic handball player named Inaki Urdangarin, from attending official family functions.
With a multitude of graft cases undermining Spaniards’ faith in just about every institution of government, an intensifying investigation aimed at Urdangarin has placed the palace under siege as well, and left the nation’s aging monarch and his aides struggling to quell the crisis.
Urdangarin, 45, who is married to the king’s youngest daughter, Cristina, 47, is scheduled to testify on Saturday before an investigating judge over allegations that he embezzled millions of euros after leveraging his blue-blood connections to gain inflated, no-bid contracts from regional politicians for his nonprofit sports foundation, Instituto Noos.
The royal family has tried mightily to distance itself from the investigation. Officially, the palace has insisted that the king knew nothing about the foundation activities of Urdangarin, who has pledged to prove his innocence. It publicly maintains that Juan Carlos ordered his son-in-law to abandon the troubled foundation in 2006, a year before dubious financial dealings surfaced.