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Iñaki Urdangarín confirmed his affair with Ainhoa Armentia this morning. Mr Urdangarín, 54, has been married to the Infanta Cristina, 56, the younger of the king’s two sisters, since 1997. But he was photographed walking on a beach in southern France holding hands with Ainhoa Armentia, 43, a Spanish accounting analyst who is thought to be in the process of separating from her husband.
Mr Urdangarín, a former member of Spain’s handball team, confirmed the affair this morning when questioned by journalists as he arrived to work at a law firm in Vitoria, the capital of the northern Basque region, where he is serving part of his corruption sentence and where he apparently met Armentia.
Speaking of the affair, Mr Urdangarin said: “These things happen… It is a difficulty that we will manage with the utmost tranquillity and together as we have always done.”
While the pictures came as a shock to the general public, sources told Hola! that Infanta Cristina was not surprised by the snap and “already knew” about the relationship -and that the husband and wife did spend Christmas together.
Meanwhile, the couple’s second son, Pablo Urdangarin, 21, told the press: “We are all going to love each other the same.”
King Felipe looks on unimpressed
Iñaki Urdangarín leaving work after the scandal broke
Iñaki and Infanta Cristina were last pictured publicly together last month in photos published by HOLA! as they enjoyed a family holiday in Baqueira Beret. The couple, who married in 1997, share four children, Juan, Pablo, Miguel and daughter Irene.
In June 2018, King Felipe’s brother-in-law was given a five year and ten-month prison sentence following convictions of embezzlement and money laundering in excess of £4.5 million through his non-profit organisation, the Noos Institute.
The affair is just the latest blow to the Spanish crown.
Juan Carlos, Spain’s former king and Felipe’s father, was forced into exile in Abu Dhabi in 2020 after a barrage of multimillion-euro corruption allegations emerged.
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Iñaki and Infanta Cristina
Iñaki and Infanta Cristina in happier times
The three Spanish investigations into Juan Carlos’s financial affairs are due to be shelved in the coming months and a Swiss investigation linked to them has already been closed. In Spain, prosecutors have not been able to look at his activities during his reign because as king he enjoyed immunity.
However, Pedro Sánchez, the Socialist prime minister, has repeated that the former king, who ruled from 1975 until his abdication amid corruption scandals in 2014, had to “give explanations” to his compatriots about his conduct before he returns.
The scandal has hardened monarchist sentiment against a marriage that many believed never should have taken place on the grounds of his unsuitability.
Cristina was acquitted of being an accessory to tax fraud after a year-long trial.
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King Juan Carlos was exiled to the UAE
When Felipe came to the throne he aimed to restore the crown’s reputation.
He immediately set about trying to fireproof it from any fallout from the investigation into Urdangarín.
He stripped the couple of their ducal title and withdrew royal duties from Cristina and his other sister, the Infanta Elena.
Ramón Pérez-Maura, an aristocrat and opinion editor of El Debate, a conservative online newspaper said: “This consort created multiple problems for his wife and the entire Spanish royal family and ended up with a prison sentence. But she never left her husband. How much easier it would have been for everyone if she had separated from Urdangarín,”
Felipe aimed to restore the Crown’s reputation upon taking the role of King
He ended: “Cristina has given everything for her husband but, as in so many other marriages, that has not been enough and everything seems to indicate that the marriage crisis is serious.
“She will now reflect on what she did for him and how her support for her husband could harm the crown, that is, harm Spain: the last thing a member of the royal family wants to do.”
The relationship of the royal couple, who appeared happy together with their four children at a Spanish ski resort during the Christmas holiday, as reported by the media has been under strain for some time.