The House of Bourbon-Anjou, the Spanish Royal family, is a modern monarchy. The king even rides a motorcycle, and that is despite the fact the family has a pedigree longer than 'War and Peace.' It has managed to hang in through a dictatorship, a coup, and constitutional change.
Naturally, the family and the country has changed a bit over that time. Spain now has a prime minister and a parliament that passes laws, but the King is still the commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces and head of state. He is also tasked with promoting foreign relations, so King Felipe VI is a busy fellow for an ancient institution.
You would think that he would not have time for, say, taking away his sister's titles, publishing lists of presents he has received, or secretly dating a TV anchor, but he makes time. His dad made even more time for steamy affairs and fancy Ferraris, and the lesser royals have plenty of chances for causing trouble. These last parts are why the Spanish Royal family is currently fighting to keep afloat, surviving scandals and budget cuts. The following entries will give you a glimpse into the wild and wooly world of the House of Bourbon-Anjou.
15 77 Years Old And Still Not Safe From A Paternity Suit
Although the Spanish King cannot be tried, Juan Carlos abdicated and is no longer protected by the crown. Now it is time for all his little indiscretions to come home to him and he apparently had quite a few of those. According to ibntimes.com, a Belgian woman brought a paternity suit against the former king in the Spanish Supreme Court.
She and a Spanish man took a DNA test back in 2012, and they found that there was a 91% chance that they were related
to Juan Carlos, but they couldn't do anything about it then because he was king at the time. The Spanish man brought the suit as soon as he could, and you can't blame him. He's currently a waiter and could probably use a dash of royalty in his life. Sadly, his case was dismissed, but the Belgian woman's case is still viable.
14 A Potential Love Child And 50 Years Of Marriage
Ok, 'swinging' isn't really a fair description of an affair that, according to the Daily Mail, has lasted for 10 years. Juan Carlos has been married to Sofia since 1962, but he seems to have become deeply involved with a German aristocrat named Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein between 2004 and 2014. Although Sayn-Wittgenstein is 27 years younger than him, she has managed to marry twice before (one of those times to a prince.) These days, she is a business booster for the state of Monaco.
How do we know all this? Juan Carlos invited her on a secret (and expensive) elephant hunting trip, and while he was chasing elephants, the king fell and broke his hip. Naturally, the press got a hold of the news, leaving Ms. Sayn-Wittgenstein to explain her presence on an intimate trip while the then-king convalesced. A book was later written about the affair.
13 The Commoner And The Prince
The current king is a whole different story from Juan Carlos, especially when it comes to his love life. Felipe met Letizia Ortiz through a journalist friend at a dinner. This daughter of a nurse and journalist had been married to a teacher in the late 1990's, but it didn't work out. She went on to become a TV anchor and covered the Iraq war and 9/11.
She and the then-prince hit it off and started dating without their parents knowing.
The country was immediately charmed, however, when they announced their engagement in November of 2003. They now have 2 beautiful daughters, Leonor and Sofia. Spain's power couple is known for their common sense and their ability to be in touch with the average Spaniard's views, and much of that stems from the queen who was a commoner.
12 Even Duchesses Have To Pay Taxes
According to the Sunday Express, Princess Cristina was accused in 2015 of tax fraud in connection to her husband, Inaki Urdangarin's embezzling and money laundering. This was a big deal for a multitude of reasons, the most obvious being that the new king had just finished announcing that corruption must be stamped out.
The second big deal is that the Supreme Court ruled that her royal status doesn't protect her from the consequences of her actions. The third big deal, and probably the one that will affect her the longest, is that her loving little brother Felipe stripped her of the title that her father gave her. Don't feel too bad for her. She still is called Her Royal Highness The Infanta Cristina. She just isn't the Duchess of Palma anymore.
11 Having A Business Degree Does Not Guarantee Morals
On February 23, 2013, Inaki Urdangarin had to appear in court to explain why his reputedly not-for-profit organization, Noos Institute, got inflated public contracts for arranging cultural, sports and tourism events. He also had to defend himself against the charge that he embezzled the equivalent of $10 million from these contracts. You would think someone who has a business degree from the University of Barcelona would know better. According to world.time.com, Inaki sat on the board of his organization, as did his wife Princess Cristina.
He claimed that Juan Carlos, who was then the king, and his wife had no idea that he was embezzling.
However, emails were submitted to the court that Juan Carlos was aware of Inaki's shenanigans. Since Her Royal Highness Cristina was eventually indicted for helping her hubby evade taxes for all his embezzled millions, I think it's safe to say she was aware of what he was doing, too.
10 Having The Biggest Castle Is Not Enough
Not all castles are the same. Some are distinctly too large for anything useful. For instance, the Daily Mail reveals that Spain's Palacio Real de Madrid is the largest castle in Europe. It has 3,418 rooms and takes up 1,450,000 square feet of floor space. Towering over the Plaza de Armeria and the Sabatini Gardens, this castle was built on the burnt out remains of an ancient fortress in 1760 to 1755. Charles III moved into the castle in 1764 and lived in it through most of his reign. It was enlarged in the 19th century, it includes a pharmacy, a library, and an armory.
The crazy thing is that these days, no one lives in this castle. The royal family lives in the smaller, but still huge, Zarzuela Palace. The Palacio Real is purely ceremonial, taken care of by the Patrimonio Nacional and available for tours for a measly 11 Euro.
9 Spanish Royal Family Is Actually French
If you are history buff, Bourbon and Anjou sound familiar. Weren't those the houses that Henry II and Joan of Arc fought? They were in France, right? Wasn't the House of the Bourbon supposed to have an off branch called the House of Orleans? Your memories are correct. According to britannica.com, the first Bourbon king to sit on the French throne was Henry IV in 1589. They continued as leaders of France until that little dust-up in 1792.
A cadet branch of the Bourbons inherited the Spanish throne through Phillip V of Spain.
He was Louis XIV of France's grandson, and he inherited some bits of France along with Spain through some marriage shenanigans. The cadet branch didn't sever itself from France until 1714. The house was booted out of power a few times, but they always come back to the country they love- which is their adopted country of Spain.
8 Survived A Coup d'Etat
Ever since the dictator Francisco Franco had died in 1975, Spain had been changing at the speed of light. Democratic reform was the watchword of the decade, and each reform came one after the other. King Juan Carlos had handed power to parliament and instituted a new constitution. It was all way too fast for Spain's conservatives. According to history.com, it came to a head on February 23, 1981. Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero led 200 members of the civil guard in invading the Cortes, Spain's legislature building. They fired shots in the air and took the parliament hostage.
Spaniards were glued to their television sets for 18 hours as the band of civil guards held the Cortes. King Juan Carlos appealed to the Spanish army to condemn these renegades and affirm their loyalty to the new constitution. The army did and the bandits had to retreat in shame, thus preserving Spain's democracy.
7 Royalty On The Cheap
The Telegraph reported in 2011 that King Felipe and Queen Letizia had to slash their personal budget by up to 9% from the previous year. Like a lot of monarchs, the Spanish royal family has to get approval for their household spending from their parliament, but they do get to set their budget for themselves. Spain, like the rest of the world, had been in a recession in 2008 and had been struggling to reduce their oversized deficit. In recognition of this, the residents of Zarzuela Palace held their household spending at the 2009 limit for two years before taking a big reduction.
Their family budget is the smallest of all the royal houses in Europe. Of course, 'cheap' is a relative turn.
Their personal funds in 2009 were 8.9 million Euros
(about $11,002,600) and their big belt-tightening expenditure left them with 8,100,000 Euros a year. Other monarchies may spend way more than they do, but they still live in a castle.
6 On The Wings Of A Dictator
Francisco Franco was Spain's absolute dictator from 1939 to 1975, while the former king, Alfonso XIII, went into exile. Alfonso never abdicated, however, and Francisco was never adverse to a monarchy. In fact, Alfonso had gone into exile in 1931, when a majority of Spaniards voted for some form of republicanism, and monarchists sided with Franco and other right-leaning politicos during the Spanish Civil War.
According to revolvy.com, he wrote a Law of Succession in 1947, which allowed him to name his successor and to call Spain a kingdom. However, he was a dictator and he wouldn't give up his power without actually giving up the ghost. So Francisco kept ruling through a coalition of the winners of the Spanish Civil War until 1975. He named Juan Carlos I de Borbon his successor before he passed, and Juan Carlos signed into law the Constitution of Spain in 1978.
5 Royal Titles: They Are Weird
If you ever research the Spanish royal line of succession, you will notice that almost all the women are called Her Royal Highness The Infanta. The Infanta part is unique: only the Portuguese and Spanish use it, and it literally means infant. This doesn't really make sense for some of the holders of the title: Her Royal Highness The Infanta Pilar hasn't been an infant since the Beatles were the 'it' boy band.
The title stems from the 1200's, according to brittanica.com, when it was used as the title for all the children of the king.
In the 1370's, the custom changed for the oldest boy, but it stuck for the daughters.
And while we are talking weird titles, King Felipe has a couple dozen of them, including King of the Two Sicilies, according to unofficialroyalty.com. (The 'other' Sicily is Naples.) He is titled King of Jerusalem, Lord of Biscay, King of the Canary Islands and about 50 other things. You can just call him His Majesty The King of Spain, though.
4 Sometimes It Pays To Be Royal
Receiving gifts from foreign dignitaries is part of being king. The practice goes back centuries, and the annals monarchs are full of some truly exotic presents. Juan Carlos used to get quite a few presents. This is fortunate for him, as the Spanish throne has been rather cheaply run for quite a while. Particularly it is fortunate for his love of yachting.
The former king has won trophies for his sailing and is obsessed with the sport, according to the Telegraph. When he got a luxury yacht named Fortuna from a group of businesses based on the Balearic Islands, he was pretty happy about it. Whether he noticed that the Fortuna was worth 18 million Euro is questionable. He also once received two Ferraris from the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, according to the Telegraph.
3 And Sometimes The Gifts Dry Up
According to the Telegraph, King Felipe VI has forbidden members of the Spanish royal family from accepting extravagant gifts. He proclaimed that starting January of 2015, royal members could not receive any presents that, in his words, "compromise the dignity of the institution." He didn't set a hard price limit on the gifts, and he made an exception for small 'courtesy' gifts, but it's still quite a limit.
He vetoed free flights, zero interest loans, and working in the private sector for any members of the royal family, too.
If you are wondering if his queen and lovely daughters are included in this ban, then rest assured, they are. The gift the little princesses were showing off this Christmas was a puzzle.
This wasn't out of nowhere: the Spanish monarchy had gotten in trouble over corruption scandals, and it isn't a great look for the leaders to be tooling around in Ferraris when a country is trying to recover from a recession. Still hard on the princesses, though.
2 Youngest Heir Presumptive
King Felipe and Queen Letizia have two daughters, the Infanta Leonor and the Infanta Sofia. Since there isn't any little prince in the picture, the line of succession goes to the oldest girl. The little princess became the heir presumptive when her grandfather abdicated the throne in favor of her father, and that makes her the youngest heir to a throne in Europe. She is 12 this year and still in middle school, so it is fortunate that the press seems to really like her.
Asides from being so young, she is also set up to be unusual in another way. According to Hello Magazine, Spain hasn't had a queen regent since Isabella II ruled from 1833 to 1868. Fortunately, that doesn't look to be something that she needs to worry about in the near future as her dad is in good health.
1 The Order Of The Golden Fleece
Royal folks get invited to all the coolest organizations. For instance, The Order of The Golden Fleece, according to Hello Magazine, was an order of knighthood that was founded in 1430 by Philip III of Burgundy to commemorate his wedding to Isabella of Portugal. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Andrew, and there are supposed to be only 51 members in it, who are supposed to settle disputes between themselves.
And guess who is the newest members of this fine order? Hello Magazine reveals that The Infanta Leonor recently was knighted into it. She would be the youngest, at 12, and one of only 4 females to be inducted into it.
The other 3 women are Queen Elizabeth, Princess Beatrix, and Queen Margrethe of Denmark.
Pretty impressive company for someone not yet in high school.