The former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, is pleading Crown Immunity to evade explosive claims that he sent Spanish agents to Britain to harass and threaten a former lover.
As first revealed in The Mail on Sunday, Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a wealthy businesswoman based in London and Shropshire, is taking the so-called ‘King Emeritus’ to the High Court, alleging he mounted an eight-year campaign of intimidation after their relationship broke down.
Court papers accuse Juan Carlos, 83, of using spies to place her under surveillance, to hack her phones and internet, mount a campaign of smears and issue death threats.
Representatives for Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and Juan Carlos made no comment last night.
The former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, is pleading Crown Immunity to evade explosive claims that he sent Spanish agents to Britain to harass and threaten a former lover. Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a wealthy businesswoman based in London and Shropshire, is taking the so-called ‘King Emeritus’ to the High Court, alleging he mounted an eight-year campaign of intimidation after their relationship broke down. (Above, Juan Carlos, then King, and Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein in Barcelona in 2006)
But The Mail on Sunday understands the former king, who abdicated in 2014 in favour of his son, is trying to dismiss the case by claiming that as a former sovereign, he cannot be sued.
The allegations have caused a sensation in Spain, where Juan Carlos, who was groomed by the late fascist leader General Franco as his successor, faces accusations of financial corruption, which he denies. He lives in exile in Abu Dhabi.
There is concern in Britain that agents of a foreign – and supposedly friendly – power have allegedly been instructed to commit criminal acts in this country.
Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein’s lawyer, Robin Rathmell at Kobre & Kim, has previously said: ‘The fact that people from a foreign intelligence service flew to London unannounced in order to threaten a private citizen… is astonishing and demands a serious investigation.’
According to the court papers, Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein has ‘been subject to a continuing threat of physical harm, trespass and surveillance’.
Court papers accuse Juan Carlos, 83, of using spies to place Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein under surveillance, to hack her phones and internet, mount a campaign of smears and issue death threats. (She is pictured in Monaco in 2014, six months after Juan Carlos abdicated)
They add: ‘[Juan Carlos] has sought to disaffect her own children, has systematically sought the breakdown of many of the Claimant’s close friendships and professional associations and has sought to destroy her reputation and livelihood by spreading defamatory remarks and by vilification in the media.’
Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 57, claims she suffered a bizarre night-time attack at her £6 million Chyknell Hall estate in Shropshire, where extensive security was breached and nothing was taken but a hole was drilled in her bedroom window.
On an earlier occasion, she received an anonymous phone call threatening that she would die in a car crash in a French tunnel – ‘between Monaco and Nice’ – in the same manner as the late Princess Diana.
The papers allege that Juan Carlos and a senior Spanish general organised mercenary soldiers to occupy her apartment in Monaco in 2012, while she was living there.
Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein had conducted a five-year romance with the married Juan Carlos, from 2004 to 2009, but the court papers suggest the relationship ended when it became clear that he was sleeping with other women.
The couple’s affair became public knowledge in 2012 when, with the relationship already over, it emerged that the two had been on safari to Botswana with Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein’s son.
The hunting trip scandalised Spain, especially as it was reported that the king had shot and killed an elephant.
Two years later, in June 2014, he stepped aside in favour of his son, Felipe VI, and took the unofficial title King Emeritus.
The court papers accuse the former King of attempting to pressure Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein into resuming the romantic relationship, into returning gifts and into remaining silent about his business dealings.
In 2014, say the papers, Juan Carlos ‘stated that if the Claimant did not resume their relationship then there would be consequences. He also began to press, for the first time, for the return of financial and other gifts that he had made’.
The consequences, he told her, ‘will not be good’ if she failed to do what he wanted, the papers claim.
Twice divorced, Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was formerly married to a German aristocrat.
In an earlier interview, she said: ‘After eight years of abuse, which has also targeted my children, and given there is no end in sight, I reluctantly find myself with no other option but to pursue legal action.’