Photo: Inaki Urdangarin
Iñaki Urdangarin, son-in-law of Spain’s King Juan Carlos, will cease to take part in official activities of the Royal Family amid the controversy over a judicial investigation into an alleged diversion of public funds by a foundation he once headed, the chief of the royal household said Monday.
Rafael Spottorno made the announcement during a press conference at Zarzuela Palace.
While the royal household considers that the behavior of Urdangerin, who holds the title of Duke of Palma, is not exemplary, it does plead that his presumption of innocence be respected.
Spottorno said that the royal household will publish its itemized accounts on its Web site, probably before the end of the year, as all public administrations do.
Princess Cristina, the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, wed Urdangarin in October 1997. The couple and their four children now live in Washington, where the duke is an executive with Spanish telecom giant Telefonica.
The decision to remove Urdangarin from official activities was taken by consent of that institution and the Duke of Palma, Spottorno said Monday.
But he did express regret that a man who is not accused of anything is currently on trial in the media, referring to the many news stories that have been published over the past few weeks about the duke’s business interests.
Shortly after learning the royal household’s decision, the attorney that Urdangarin named last weekend to represent him in the case, Mario Pascual Vives, said that his client is “concerned and greatly distressed and a little indignant” by news reports appearing about the Instituto Noos, a non-profit entity the duke led until 2006.
For his part, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who next week will hand over his post to Mariano Rajoy, said Monday that Iñaki Urdangarin’s situation is being “handled well” by the royal household.
In his first statement about the controversy entangling the king’s son-in-law, Zapatero spoke of the monarchy’s role in Spain.
“I believe that the royal household has taken a reasonable position, solid and serious. I believe that institutionally the king will know how to handle the situation, which obliges all of us to respect the action taken by the courts,” he said in an interview on ABC Radio.
The chief anti-corruption prosecutor for the Balearic Islands, Pedro Horrach, is leading the probe of Instituto Noos. He took a statement last month from Diego Torres, a long-time Noos director who succeeded Urdangarin as president of the foundation.