The Infanta Cristina of Spain and her husband Iñaki Urdangarín, who is serving a semi-freedom sentence for corruption and was recently photographed with another woman, announced their separation on Monday, in a press release sent to the Spanish agency EFE.
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“By mutual agreement, we have decided to interrupt our marital relationship”, indicate in this press release the sister of King Felipe VI and the former international handball player, her husband for more than 24 years, without however specifying whether this means they were going to divorce.
“The commitment to our children remains intact,” continues the couple, who have four children.
“As this is a private decision, we ask the utmost respect of everyone around us,” the brief statement concludes.
A magazine had published on Wednesday photos of Urdangarín walking hand in hand with a woman, later identified as Ainhoa Armentia, a colleague of the law firm where he works in Vitoria (north) thanks to the semi-freedom regime whose he benefits.
Asked Thursday about these photos, Urdangarín, 54, had mentioned “a difficulty” which was going to be managed by the family “in the greatest calm”.
The 56-year-old Infanta Cristina, who lives in Geneva, had not spoken until Monday’s press release.
Cristina and Urdangarín married in October 1997, a year after meeting at the Atlanta Olympics. The couple moved to Geneva in 2013, far from the paparazzi.
Iñaki Urdangarín, ex-Olympic medalist in handball with the Spanish team, has been serving a five-year and 10-month prison sentence since 2018 for embezzling millions of euros donated by public bodies to a non-profit foundation which he chaired.
The Infanta Cristina had been sent to court in the case for complicity in tax evasion, becoming the first member of the royal family to be brought to justice for such an offence. The king’s sister, sixth in line to the Spanish throne, had been released.
The Supreme Court had nevertheless considered that she had a civil liability as the beneficiary of the funds obtained by her husband and had imposed a fine of 136,950 euros on her, which she had already paid.
Throughout the investigation, Cristina had denied knowledge of her husband’s illicit activities. From the start of the affair, at the end of 2011, both had been excluded from the official acts of the Royal House.
On ascending the throne in 2014, Felipe VI promised to restore the prestige of the Crown, tainted by multiple corruption scandals involving his father Juan Carlos and which had forced him to abdicate.
In 2015, he notably withdrew from the Infanta Cristina the title of Duchess of Palma, which Juan Carlos had created in 1997 for his daughter before her marriage.
Felipe VI also has an older sister, the Infanta Elena, 58 years old.