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HomeWomenKing Juan Carlos' ex-mistress discusses their controversial 2012 Botswana hunting trip

King Juan Carlos' ex-mistress discusses their controversial 2012 Botswana hunting trip

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Juan Carlos’ ex-mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein has discussed their controversial 2012 hunting trip to Botswana on the latest episode of the Corinna and the King podcast.

The investigative podcast series delves into the relationship Corinna, 57, had with the former King, and how it eventually played a key part in his abdication in 2014.

Although she says they were no longer together by the time they travelled to Botswana, with the relationship believed to have taken place between 2004 and 2009, the trip caused a media storm for both the royal and Corinna, who were still friends.

Juan Carlos suggested that they go to Botswana to celebrate her son’s 10th birthday, however, upon their arrival, it seemed clear to Corinna that he planned to make the most of the holiday, and had brought boxes of wine for himself. 

After an evening of drinking, the king woke up in pain, saying he did not remember what had happened the night before. Corinna claims she was told her private jet had to be provided so that the royal could fly back to Spain, and the group made an emergency exit, travelling to Madrid. 

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, the ex-mistress of King Juan Carlos, has been interviewed for a new investigative podcast series called Corinna and the King

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, the ex-mistress of King Juan Carlos, has been interviewed for a new investigative podcast series called Corinna and the King

Corinna and Juan Carlos were lovers for five years and she described how she felt 'married' to him in this time. (Pictured: the Spanish King pictured greeting his lover at the Laureus Awards in Barcelona on May 22, 2006)

Corinna and Juan Carlos were lovers for five years and she described how she felt ‘married’ to him in this time. (Pictured: the Spanish King pictured greeting his lover at the Laureus Awards in Barcelona on May 22, 2006)

Corinna wondered whether the official plane could not be provided because the all-expenses trip (which had been paid for by a Syrian businessman) had been kept secret from the government – which turned out to be the case.

When news of the luxury getaway became public, it causes a media furore, with the expensive holiday angering the Spanish people, who were struggling amid the economic crisis.

Furthermore, a photograph from another hunting trip taken in 2006, showing the king posing with a dead elephant was published, angering both animal welfare activists and those who hunted themselves, but saw the slaying of an elephant as too excessive.

On top of this, while the king was away, his 13-year-old grandson Froilán Marichalar was hospitalised after shooting himself in the foot while doing target practice, with reports at the time claiming he was handling a firearm that was illegal for a child of his age to use. 

Juan Carlos (pictured in 2010) was forced to abdicate in 2014, with many pinpointing the 2012 Botswana trip as a key event in the lead-up to his downfall

Juan Carlos (pictured in 2010) was forced to abdicate in 2014, with many pinpointing the 2012 Botswana trip as a key event in the lead-up to his downfall

In an effort to address the growing crisis, the king made an apology, which was accepted by some, but mocked by others.

More notably for Corinna, the press broke the long-held pact it had with the Royal Household, and published her full name, confirming that the relationship was not just a rumour, but a reality. 

According to the podcast, that the king had been hunting elephants in Botswana, on a trip with a woman people thought was his lover (although she says they were friends by this point) was an enormous story. 

During the episode, Corinna described press reports about her – which referred to her as an ‘elephant killer’, and said she was the reason the king was not at his injured grandson’s bedside – as vicious.

In a new podcast series, Juan Carlos' ex-mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein has claimed that his wife Queen Sofia once confronted her, and that the disgraced King took on another lover when she ha to care for her sick father. Pictured: the pair in 2006

In a new podcast series, Juan Carlos’ ex-mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein has claimed that his wife Queen Sofia once confronted her, and that the disgraced King took on another lover when she ha to care for her sick father. Pictured: the pair in 2006

Corinna also claimed that Juan Carlos' wife Queen Sofia, 84, confronted her about the affair, though she did not specify the date of the alleged altercation. Pictured: Queen Sofia and Juan Carlos attending Queen Elizabeth II's funeral in London on September 19

Corinna also claimed that Juan Carlos’ wife Queen Sofia, 84, confronted her about the affair, though she did not specify the date of the alleged altercation. Pictured: Queen Sofia and Juan Carlos attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London on September 19

Corinna said she believes the story was exacerbated by the king’s wife Queen Sofia, though there is no evidence she had any hand in it. 

She said she struggled with the extreme media scrutiny, describing becoming a public person as terrifying, as she was very private, and claims that as well as being scrutinised by the press, the king insisted on her having security, who she says commandeered her office and home.

The episode ended on a cliffhanger, with Corinna waking in the middle of the night to discover a figure looming above her bed.

Speaking about the intense affair in an earlier episode of the podcast, Corinna said the five-year relationship went downhill in 2009, when she started to care for her sick father, Finn Bönning Larsen who died in August that year, and Juan Carlos revealed he had begun to see someone else because she was not ‘available.’ 

The ex-mistress of the former Spanish King has made explosive allegations in the podcast  (pictured in 2014 in New York)

The ex-mistress of the former Spanish King has made explosive allegations in the podcast  (pictured in 2014 in New York) 

She also claimed that the royal’s wife, Queen Sofia, once confronted her about the affair in front of Juan Carlos at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid. 

‘Suddenly, Queen Sofia bursts into the room with a face like thunder. She pointed at me and said, “I know who you are”. I obviously wanted to disappear into the ground,’ she said. 

She added that her royal lover ‘seemed completely taken aback and unable to actually cope with this aggression’ as he watched it unfold, but she did not specify the date of the alleged altercation.

Meanwhile In the podcast’s second episode, Corinna discussed the allegations of corruption her former lover faced before he abdicated in 2014, which saw him go into exile in Abu Dhabi. 

She said she would regularly see Juan Carlos coming back from trips with cash and that the disgraced king would brush off her questions if she asked where the money came from. 

Corinna Larsen, 57, is pursuing a High Court case against her former lover Juan Carlos, 84, for alleged harassment and spying. The mother-of-two pictured arriving at a court hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on March 29, 2022

Corinna Larsen, 57, is pursuing a High Court case against her former lover Juan Carlos, 84, for alleged harassment and spying. The mother-of-two pictured arriving at the court hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on March 29, 2022

The podcast – which has been created by journalist Bradley Hope – is likely to coincide with Corinna’s High Court case against Juan Carlos for alleged harassment and spying.

Corinna also labelled the former King of Spain ‘unhinged’ in the first episode of the podcast, and claimed he used to call her 10 times a day at her office using a fake name.

Speaking in the second episode of the podcast, which was released today, the business woman recounted the ‘unusual’ things she saw happen while she and Juan Carlos were having their affair. 

‘He would call someone up who had a great château of Bordeaux wines and say, “I really love these wines, and could you send me some?” And the next thing you’d know, 20 cases of this priceless wine would arrive,’ she claimed. 

‘’I’d see him come back from trips and he’d be happy as a five-year-old. And there’d be bags full of cash, and you go, “Oh my God, what’s that, and it’s like, “Oh this is from my friend so and so, and this is from my friend so and so”. It seemed to me like a very habitual situation,’ she added. 

The ex-mistress added that the former King presided over a ‘Court of Miracles’ – a term referring to underground dealings made by beggars, migrants and thieves in Medieval France. 

She added that the disgraced king would brush her questions off when she asked where the money came from, telling her she didn’t understand Spain.  

Corinna described her ex-lover as 'ruthless and unhinged' after he allegedly spied on and harassed her into returning the €65 million he had transferred into her bank account in 2012

Corinna described her ex-lover as ‘ruthless and unhinged’ after he allegedly spied on and harassed her into returning the €65 million he had transferred into her bank account in 2012

Also speaking on the podcast, David Jiménez, the former editor-in-chief of the Spanish daily El Mundo, claimed that most of the Spanish media knew about the former monarch’s financial dealings and affairs but that he was untouchable. 

In the first installment of the podcast, the Danish businesswoman said that she felt ‘married’ to Juan Carlos, 84, during their relationship and described him as the ‘husband of [her] heart’, The Times reported last week.

Describing him as ‘funny and quite persistent’ albeit in an amusing way, she labelled him, ‘one of the biggest seducers in the royal world’. 

In the podcast she explains her feeling that she was more a wife than a mistress, even after discovering that he had had multiple affairs. 

Corinna explained that she first met the then-King at the Duke of Westminster’s estate La Garganta in southern Spain when they both attended a hunting party.

That evening, the mother-of-two – who was married but separated from her second husband Prince Casimir zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn at the time – says she made an impression on the King by breaking royal protocol and leaving the table before he was finished eating. 

Her boldness obviously impressed the King because after the countryside getaway ended, Corinna claims the King started sending her flowers and love letters every day.

The following year, the businesswoman separated from her husband and she says the affair with the King only became more intense as the years went on.

Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 and handed over the throne to his son King Felipe amid a money-laundering scandal.  King Felipe VI of Spain (second left), his wife Queen Letizia (far left), their daughters Princess Sofia (front left) and Princess Leonor (front right), former King Juan Carlos I (second right) and his wife former Queen Sofia (right) pose before attending the traditional Easter Sunday Mass of Resurrection in Palma de Mallorca on April 1, 2018

Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 and handed over the throne to his son King Felipe amid a money-laundering scandal.  King Felipe VI of Spain (second left), his wife Queen Letizia (far left), their daughters Princess Sofia (front left) and Princess Leonor (front right), former King Juan Carlos I (second right) and his wife former Queen Sofia (right) pose before attending the traditional Easter Sunday Mass of Resurrection in Palma de Mallorca on April 1, 2018

Using the fake name ‘Mr Sumer’, Corinna claims Juan Carlos would call her ’10 times a day’ at her office in Madrid.

The former monarch had chosen the pseudonym as ‘Sumer’ is an acronym of  ‘Su Majestad el Rey’, which translates as His Majesty the King. 

Although Corinna tried to pass it off as a business call, she said colleagues could see through the pretense because they recognised the King’s ‘booming and distinctive’ voice.

Corinna’s new podcast series will also cover her involvement in Juan Carlos’ money-laundering investigation in Switzerland and Spain.

Following their break-up, Corinna claims the former monarch harassed her into returning €65 million [£56m] that he had transferred into her bank account in 2012.

This sum was a key aspect of the corruption case brought against the ex-King, which led to him fleeing to Abu Dhabi in 2020.  

He fled after Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into bank accounts allegedly held by Juan Carlos in tax havens.

Spain launched its own investigations based in part on information shared by Switzerland including one about cash the former king allegedly received as part of his involvement in a high-speed Saudi Arabia rail contract. 

Aisde from a brief visit to Spain earlier this year to attend a sailing regatta in Galicia, when his son King Felipe refused to allow him to stay at the royal palace, he has stayed away. 

The King who ‘bedded 5,000 women’: From trying to woo Princess Diana to being ‘injected with testosterone blockers’ to control his sex drive – the VERY colourful love life of Spain’s greatest seducer 

Juan Carlos was 'injected with female hormones to control his rampant sex drive', an ex-police chief sensationally claimed earlier this year. The former King of Spain pictured arriving in Santiago in 2018

Juan Carlos was ‘injected with female hormones to control his rampant sex drive’, an ex-police chief sensationally claimed earlier this year. The former King of Spain pictured arriving in Santiago in 2018

He was the King of Spain from 1975 until his controversial abdication in 2014 – and during that time, Juan Carlos is rumoured to have ‘bedded over 5,000 women’.

In October, an ex-police chief sensationally claimed in a parliamentary hearing that the exiled former Spanish king Juan Carlos was ‘injected with female hormones to control his rampant sex drive’.

Jose Manuel Villarejo also said the disgraced former monarch, now living at a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi, was given testosterone blockers by the Spanish secret service after his libido was categorised as a ‘state problem.’

Villarejo, a former Spanish Police commissioner currently on trial in a blackmail case, said, according to The Times: ‘[The National Intelligence Centre (CNI)] injected female hormones and testosterone blockers to control his libido because it was considered a problem of state that he was so horny.’

Danish-German philanthropist Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, Spanish singer Sara Montiel, Belgian governess Liliane Sartiau and Italian princess Maria Gabriela de Saboya are just some of the women he is rumoured to have bedded besides his wife, Queen Sofia.

News of the disgraced former king’s legendary libido are not new, however. It comes after a Spanish author and military historian Amadeo Martinez Ingles wrote a book entitled ‘Juan Carlos: The King Of 5,000 Lovers’, piecing together evidence of his sexual history and painting the king as a rampant sex addict.

Spanish royal family expert Pilar Eyre said the former King attempted to bed Princess Diana, claiming Juan Carlos made a ‘tactile’ advance to Diana when she was just 25

Princess Diana is rumoured to have been just one of the young ladies the ex-king pursued in a romantic career in which — like his namesake, the seducer Don Juan — he is said to have bedded almost 5,000 women.

Villarejo, who has been accused of spying on and working to discredit some of Spain’s most high-profile politicians as a key figure in the nation’s ‘sewer politics’, also insisted he was asked to get rid of medical documents which would have proved the medication went on.

He denied having any involvement in the effort to bring Juan Carlos’ notorious sex drive under control and said he found out about it from Corinna Larsen, a former lover of the ex-monarch now living in London.

Larsen, also known as Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 58, had an affair with the 84-year-old monarch – who is married to Queen Sofia, 84 – between 2004 and 2009.

One of Juan Carlos’ early sexual encounters is said to be with Maria Gabriela de Saboya, daughter of the last king of Italy (pictured 1966)

One of Juan Carlos’ early sexual encounters is said to be with Maria Gabriela de Saboya, daughter of the last king of Italy (pictured 1966)

In his explosive book published in 2016 called ‘Juan Carlos: The King of 5,000 lovers’, author Martinez Ingles dubbed the ex-king a sex addict and said he had hundreds of relationships even after marriage to his wife Queen Sofia in 1962.

The book claimed he had had 62 lovers in one six-month period alone, and during his ‘passionate period’ between 1976 and 1994, the king had slept with a staggering 2,154 women.

Spanish royal family expert Pilar Eyre has corroborated Martinez Ingles’ claim that the former King attempted to bed Princess Diana, saying said Juan Carlos made a ‘tactile’ advance to Diana when she was just 25.

Diana herself denied anything untoward had happened but admitted that while the libidinous king was ‘charming’ he could be a ‘little too attentive.’

One of Juan Carlos’ early sexual encounters is said to be with Maria Gabriela de Saboya, daughter of the last king of Italy.

Later, Juan Carlos, who was crowned king in 1975, allegedly became estranged from his wife after the queen found him in a compromising position with Spanish actress and singer, Sara Montiel.

It is rumoured that Queen Sofia caught him in the act with Montiel just weeks after their coronation, but she denied any affair.

An explosive book published in 2016 called 'Juan Carlos: The King of 5,000 lovers', dubbed the ex-king a sex addict, claiming he had hundreds of relationships even after marriage to wife Queen Sofia in 1962 (pictured together in 1994)

An explosive book published in 2016 called ‘Juan Carlos: The King of 5,000 lovers’, dubbed the ex-king a sex addict, claiming he had hundreds of relationships even after marriage to wife Queen Sofia in 1962 (pictured together in 1994) 

In January 2017 it was claimed spymasters paid a former Miss World contestant millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to stop her spilling the beans on her supposed affair with Juan Carlos when he was still King of Spain.

Former beauty queen-turned-actress Barbara Rey reportedly had the cash paid into an offshore account to make sure she kept quiet about her long-standing romance with the ex-monarch.

A Belgian housewife has also claimed to be the daughter of Juan Carlos, alleging that the former King had an affair with her mother, governess Liliane Sartiau.

In 2015, her daughter Ingrid brought a paternity suit to the Spanish courts. But the writ was thrown out on the basis of the king’s ‘legal inviolability’ under Spanish law.

Spanish waiter Albert Sola also claimed around the same time as Ingrid that he was an illegitimate son of Juan Carlos – but his attempts to be recognised failed early on.

 

But all charges against him were dropped in the last year because of a lack of evidence, immunity he experienced as head of state and the statute of limitations expiring. 

The decision was taken after he paid millions of pounds in tax regularisations. 

Commenting on the money-laundering claims, Corinna said: ‘It became clearer and clearer to me [that] he was conducting not just a double life, he was conducting a quintuple life.

‘There’s something quite unhinged about him and something quite ruthless. It’s all about self-preservation. Imagine that someone who says you were the love of their life would frame you in a criminal investigation.’

In her High Court claim, Corinna alleges Juan Carlos caused her ‘great mental pain’ by spying on and harassing her. 

However, Juan Carlos has always denied any wrongdoing against his ex-mistress.

Lawyers representing Juan Carlos argued he is ‘entitled to immunity from the jurisdiction of the English courts in his capacity as a senior member of the Spanish royal family’.

But after a hearing in London in March, High Court judge Mr Justice Nicklin ruled against the former king, saying the claim can now go ahead.

The former King abdicated in 2014 due to a separate public outcry involving marital infidelities. 

King Juan Carlos I, 84, was pictured arriving at the 'reception of the century' at Buckingham Palace with Queen Sofía amid an alleged row with the Spanish government over his attendance at Her late Majesty's state funeral

King Juan Carlos I, 84, was pictured arriving at the ‘reception of the century’ at Buckingham Palace with Queen Sofía amid an alleged row with the Spanish government over his attendance at Her late Majesty’s state funeral

King Juan Carlos I, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was invited to the late monarch's funeral by Buckingham Palace, but the Spanish government reportedly asked him not to attend. The late Queen and disgraced King pictured watching a flamenco dance display at the Alcazar Palace during an official tour of Spain in 1998

King Juan Carlos I, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was invited to the late monarch’s funeral by Buckingham Palace, but the Spanish government has reportedly asked him not to attend. The late Queen and disgraced King pictured watching a flamenco dance display at the Alcazar Palace during an official tour of Spain in 1998

In September 2022, Juan Carlos defied the Spanish government’s request not to attend the Queen’s funeral. 

Spanish news outlet El Debate reported that Juan Carlos, the late Queen’s cousin, was asked by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchéz to let his son and his wife Queen Letizia travel to the UK alone.

The government reportedly made it clear they wished for King Felipe VI, Carlos’s son, to be the Spanish representative at the state funeral, as his father was still awaits trial in the UK for the harassment case. 

Despite once counting himself among the world’s most popular monarchs, polling showed that approximately two-thirds of Spain wanted the king to abdicate when he stepped down — underlining how quickly public opinion can shift.

Juan Carlos returned to Spain for a brief visit in 2022 but has spent the past two years living in exile in Abu Dhabi.

All the trips of Don Juan Carlos makes abroad are carefully observed by Spanish officials, according to El Mundo, with the government keenly aware of the history the monarchy has played in shaping the state.

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